Suicide Prevention Hotline now operational in Southern Utah and nationwide – St George News

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Promotional image courtesy of TDS, St. George News/Cedar City News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — A new three-digit number – 988 – that will connect people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now in effect.

Promotional image courtesy of TDS, St. George News/Cedar City News

People can call, text or chat using 988 if they are having suicidal thoughts, mental health or addiction crises or any other type of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis assistance.

In 2020, Congress designated the new dialing code 988 to operate through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s existing network of more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the country. The three-digit 988 went into effect on July 16.

From 2018 to 2020, Utah’s age-adjusted suicide rate was 21.4 per 100,000 people, with an average of 657 suicides per year. According to the Utah Public Health Data Resource, Utah had the sixth highest age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States in 2019.

In 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death among Utahns ages 10-17 and 18-24. It is the second leading cause of death among 25-44 year olds and the fifth leading cause of death among 45-64 year olds. Overall, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among Utahans (age-adjusted rate).

Lifeline’s national suicide prevention number, 800-273-8255, began in 2005. The 10-digit number has served as an invaluable resource, helping thousands of people every day through a suicidal crisis or health-related distress. mental. With the transition to 988, these vital services will be even more easily accessible.

Promotional image courtesy of TDS, St. George News/Cedar City News

In preparation for the transition from the lifeline number to 988, the federal government and partners from many telephone service providers, including TDS, worked together to put the systems in place. The TDS number management team had to build the infrastructure to implement 988 in all TDS networks, including southern Utah. The the coordination of the realization of this enormous work on the TDS telephone system required more than 500 hours of substantive work.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is administered by Vibrant Emotional Health.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention worked to develop messaging for the new 988 number and best practices. They have also tailored 988-related messages for specific age groups. Lifeline Emergency Advisors are an essential part of the emergency care system to save lives.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 1-800 number will remain in effect alongside 988. More than 2.1 million callers dialed 800-273-8255 in 2020, but the new, easier-to-remember number is expected to increase the volume of calls to the lifeline. . The implementation of the new 988 number required increasing the capacity of the call center, strengthening crisis response and publicizing the number.

All suicide attempts should be taken seriously. Survivors of a suicide attempt are often seriously injured, may suffer from depression and/or another mental health disorder, and are at increased risk of suicide.

Suicidal behavior is a serious and complex public health problem that weighs heavily on communities in terms of economic and human costs. Suicide deaths in the United States totaled more than 46,000 in 2020.

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