The national lifeline for suicide prevention is here | News, Sports, Jobs

Michigan has joined the nation in transitioning to the 988 dialing code, which will operate through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s existing network of more than 200 locally run and funded crisis centers across the country.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline switched to 988 on July 16.

“Issue 988 is another step toward strengthening and transforming crisis care and mental health services in our state, which is a key department goal,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “This universal number means that no matter where you live or where you’re calling from, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help you. We encourage Michigan residents or their family members to call 988 s they are experiencing mental health distress, emotional distress or a substance abuse crisis.

In 2020, Congress designated the new dialing code 988 to operate through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This action extends the existing lifeline beyond people who feel suicidal to anyone experiencing a behavioral health crisis, including suicidal thoughts or substance abuse issues.

“Crisis is defined by the caller,” said Dr. Debra Pinals, medical director of behavioral and forensic health programs, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “And by providing an easy-to-remember number, we are making help more accessible and strengthening support for those in need. Trained advisors will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to calls in the field. They will listen to the caller’s issues, assess their needs and provide support by connecting them to resources and alerting local emergency crisis teams, if necessary. Deploying 988 as an easier-to-remember number will provide a natural extension to the department’s already promising work in implementing the Michigan Crisis and Access Line.

Anyone with these concerns can call: Mental health distress, Suicidal thoughts, Substance use crisis, Emotional distress, Specialized services are available for veterans, LGBTQ people and other groups, People who are ‘worried about a loved one who may need support can also call.

The 988 dialing code does not replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK (8255)) or other locally operated crisis lines. Instead, it serves as a universal entry point to connect people in need to trained crisis counselors who can help them. MDHHS is working to ensure a strong infrastructure is built through coordinating with 911 and other crisis service providers when launching the 988 dial code.

Prior to the development of 988, the Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) was funded by the Michigan Legislature in December 2018. MDHHS was tasked with the development of MiCAL, which currently operates in Oakland County and the Upper Peninsula, and with 988 the implementation.

MiCAL is built on the SAMHSA National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Care in Crisis, which is also the foundation of 988. In Michigan, MiCAL is responsible for responding to 988 calls in all areas of Michigan. In Macomb and Kent counties, Macomb County Community Mental Health and Network 180 will respond to 988 calls with MiCAL providing emergency call coverage.

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