Central California suicide prevention hotline prepares to move to number 988

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is moving to its own three-digit number this summer. When that happens, behavioral health officials across the country expect a surge in callers.

In central California, the Kings View Central Valley Suicide Prevention Hotline is gearing up to ensure people in crisis don’t have to wait when they call for help.

From July 16, anyone having suicidal thoughts or an emotional crisis can dial 988 to access their local suicide prevention hotline.

“This should increase two to three times our normal call volumes,” shared program manager David Lopez.

Lopez said the financial support will help with staffing and prevent callers from being on hold for a long time. Funding comes from the department and the state.

According to Lopez, California distributes about $20 million to the state’s 13 call centers, including Kings View.

“So about half of the funding will go to tech platforms across the board,” Lopez said. “The rest will go to individual crisis centers for real building space, hiring new people, increasing training, onboarding real team members so we can maintain that lifeline. appropriately.”

The past two years have had an emotional and mental impact on both adults and children, so up-to-date training is crucial. This means ensuring training is aligned with what has happened throughout the pandemic and the unique situations people may face.

A member of the team tells Action News that many calls come from adults stressed about money or children worried about self-isolation if they are sick.

“Not only can they be heard and validated and express some of the things they’re going through, help them stay safe for now, but they actually get some skills at the end of the phone call that they can take with them. to get them overnight,” Lopez said.

While Lopez said he’s grateful for the county’s support, there are concerns about whether the state will continue to help a historically underfunded region long-term — as he doesn’t see the number of appeals decrease soon.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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