By Maureen Wendt, President/CEO
The Dale Association, Inc.
988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is one year old. Effective July 16th of last year, 988 became available to connect people to the existing National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. People can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.
988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Mental health or substance use crisis, or
- Any other kind of emotion distress
Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the pandemic only made a bad situation worse when it comes to mental health and wellness in America. There are urgent realities driving the need for crisis service transformation across our country. In 2021:
- The U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes
- For people aged 10–14 and 25–34 years, suicide was the second-leading cause of death
- Suicide rates increased significantly among non-Hispanic Black & American Indian and Alaska Native people
- Nearly 900,000 youth aged 12-17 and 1.7 million adults attempted suicide
- About 107,000 people died from drug overdoses
Yet, there is hope. The 988 Lifeline helps thousands of struggling people overcome suicidal crisis or mental-health related distress every day.
The 988 dialing code operates through what was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is a network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers around the country. Transition to 988 is an important step forward and offers an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and transform crisis care in our country. It is anticipated that 988 will continue to grow and evolve over the years, much the way 911 and emergency medical services have grown over the past five decades.
The following table compares 911 and 988 current capabilities:
|Nation wide network to route calls||NO, calls to 911 only go to the single public safety answering point in any specific area.||YES, calls to 988 are routed through a central administrator to regional crisis centers and, if needed, a national back-up network to ensure calls are answered quickly.|
|Assistance available via text
|Assistance available via chat
|Call centers with trained professionals||YES||YES|
|Provide de-escalating emotional support via phone, text, or chat||YES, via dispatch until EMS personnel arrive.||YES, the contact is the intervention.|
|Provide referrals to community- based resources||YES||YES|
|Capacity to dispatch mobile emergency response personnel||YES||Not in all locations|
|Capacity to provide emergency care||YES, throughout the dispatch and transport process||Not in all locations|
|Capacity to connect to ongoing treatment||NO||YES, by providing referrals to local treatment providers.|
|Funding through fees assessed on phone bills||YES, well established||No.|
For those who have not dealt with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, it can be hard to wrap your head around what drives approximately 1 million people each year to take their own life. Please share this information.
The Dale Association is a unique not for profit organization who has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for more than 70 years, and whose mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, and Caregiver Support Services.