Suicide prevention help will be easier to access soon

·2 min read

New strides are being made to address the nationwide mental health crisis that has been made worse by the pandemic.

This week, a new suicide prevention hotline is set to launch which will make it easier for people to reach out for help.

Starting on July 16, people who are experiencing mental distress can dial or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

It’s much easier to remember than the longer 1-800 number previously used.

“With the pandemic, with the crime, just everything that’s going on right now, it’s like one thing after another,” Adrian Walker of Memphis said.

Walker knows times are tough.

That’s why she said there needs to be more of a focus on mental health and the resources that are available.

“There are so many people suffering from mental illnesses that don’t know who to contact in reference to getting some kind of help,” Walker said.

People who use the new 988 hotline will be connected with trained counselors who can help them with a mental health emergency.

“To be able to have a three-digit number in the same way when will call 911 for all other types of emergencies, it just makes sense,” Melissa Donahue, the director of concern of the employee assistance program for Baptist Memorial Healthcare, said.

Donahue said people who call the hotline will be offered the same services as when they called the 1-800 number, which was originally launched in 2004.

“Having a long phone number to remember is obviously the last thing for someone who is in a crisis to have to try and remember,” she said.

Donahue believes the pandemic is shining new light on the importance of mental health

She wants people who are struggling to know they are not alone.

“You may be struggling now, but today does not define the rest of your life. So try to look forward to some things you have going on in the future where you want to be and realize that today does not define you,” Donahue said.

According to the CDC, the overall suicide rate nationwide has increased almost 30 percent since 2000.

FOX13 wants to remind anyone who is dealing with mental distress that there is help.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s 1-800 number still works. Starting July 16, you can also dial or text 988 for help.

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