988, new number to call for suicide and mental health crisis

It’s a new, suicide and crisis lifeline that’s been in the works since 2019, and it goes live...
It’s a new, suicide and crisis lifeline that’s been in the works since 2019, and it goes live on Saturday, July 16.(WAVE)
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -Mental health has been an issue in this country, but suicide prevention hotlines are available to help..

Starting July 16, 988 will be the new number to call if you need to speak to a counselor.

In October 2020, the federal National Suicide Hotline Designation Act became law.

One of the outcomes of the law being passed is to implement a new number to call for mental health crisis.

One of the reasons that the new nine-eight-eight number is being introduced is because it’s shorter and easier to remember than the previous 1-800 number.

Amanda Provence, who is the chair of the Permian Basin out of the darkness walk, says this new number will be helpful during emergencies.

“When you’re in a mental health crisis, you’re not going to remember 1-800-273-8255. you know,” Provence said. " I remember it but because I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

Another reason for this law is to have trained counselors who can speak to someone going through a mental crisis, and to get that person the help they need.

Similar to when you call 9-1-1, speak to a representative and police, fire fighters or medics go to your location.

Provence says this law will bring more funding which can open more crisis call centers nationwide.

“Number one it changed the number to a three digit code. Everyone is gonna have an easier time remembering, but in addition to that, the goal is to increase funding and legislation to help grow that.” Provence said.

The Permian Basin will eventually have a call center that would cover most of West Texas.

Provence says West Texas was suppose to get a chapter this month, but it was postponed.

However, she did say one will open sometime before the year ends.

“That covers from El Paso to the county right before Abilene. and from the Panhandle all the way down to big bend. So it’s a huge area.” Provence said.

The American Foundation for suicide prevention is currently accepting volunteers for its West Texas chapter.

As they are anticipating a large amount of calls once the new number is available..

Provence says that two of the biggest issues these call centers face is insufficient funding and the capacity to respond to an increasing volume of calls.

She says this new law could help bring more funding from state and local contributors.

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