988 suicide, crisis lifeline goes live July 16th

It’s a new, suicide and crisis lifeline that’s been in the works since 2019, and it goes live on Saturday, July 16.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - They are three simple numbers, 988. But remembering them could help save a life.

It’s a new, suicide and crisis lifeline that’s been in the works since 2019, and it goes live on Saturday, July 16.

Local health officials say that more resources like this are needed now more than ever.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, someone in the U.S. died every 11 minutes by suicide in 2020. It’s the leading cause of death for people ages 10-34.

“With all the mental health crisis that we’ve had over the pandemic and the isolation of people, there’s been an increase in suicides, an increase in overdose deaths,” said David Wethersby, the Chief Operating Officer for Seven Counties.

The FCC made recommendations to congress back in 2019 to adopt a three- digit call center line for mental health crisis similar to 911. The number is a national hotline, with 200 local offices answering calls nationwide. Seven Counties will be the organization taking those calls for this region of Kentucky.

“Anyone in a mental health crisis, whether it’s substance use or mental health, or someone you love is in that crisis, can call that 988 number, and we will give them support, and the help they need,” Wethersby said.

In Kentucky, 800 people died by suicide in 2020, that’s 21st in the country.

Seven Counties currently has 20, trained, health counselors taking calls. Three positions have been added to help with the 9-8-8 launch, and the plan is to add 5-7 more positions soon.

“So now it’s just a matter of finding those folks and getting them trained and up to speed,” Wethersby said. “I think it’s been something that everybody has seen the need for.”

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