988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launches Saturday

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A new mental health crisis hotline is launching this Saturday. An easier number to remember, 988 is the call to make when seeking mental health help. The mission is to erase the stigma of getting help, and limit law enforcement intervention in times of a crisis.

“So basically, what 988 is, it’s the 911 for behavioral health crises,” said Tanya McGee, executive director of Imperial Calcasieu Human Services.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will launch this weekend. Callers will be able to speak to a licensed clinician.

“Sixty to 70 percent of behavioral health crises can be deescalated on the phone with a licensed professional without having to send someone to a hospital,” McGee said.

The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK, will still be available. But 988 not only is easy to remember, McGee said it includes services for people experiencing any mental health crisis - not just thoughts of suicide.

There will also be an increased number of licensed clinicians across the state and nation ready to answer calls.

Here in Southwest Louisiana, those will go to a Shreveport center, and on the east side of the state, to Baton Rouge.

“After so many times the phone rings if it’s not picked up by the local crisis center, it gets rolled up to the national number, so someone will answer the phone,” McGee said.

The help doesn’t stop when you hang up.

“Once they call that number they have access to behavioral health resources in our community,” McGee said.

McGee says although 911 operators are trained in crisis intervention, this will help take the stress off of them, while better assisting those in need.

“Think about it. When 911′s called ambulance is showing up, police are showing up. It’s a big traumatic experience,” she said. “So if we can get that person in the long run, access to services without having to go through the trauma of an emergency type situation or go to a hospital, then in the long run it’s going to be better for their behavioral health. It’s going to be better for the family and also in the end better for our community.”

Again, that service launches this Saturday, July 16, and you can call or text the number 988. The new three-digit number will replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, though that number with continue to work. Again that’s.

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