WACO, Texas (FOX 44) — The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be making it easier for anyone struggling in a crisis to get the help they need.
Starting July 16, you’ll only have to dial 988 to get the help you need, instead of remembering the full 10 digits.
Being highly memorable and similar to 911, staff at the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network hopes this new number makes hard conversations on suicide easier to have.
“We should be able to talk about suicide like we do peanut butter and jelly, said Elizabeth Timmons, Director of Clinical Services at the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network. “It should be that common of a conversation that we might have with people if it’s needed, and not be afraid to ask a question.”
Timmons says they run their own hotline crisis number and have several therapists constantly working to help others.
“I have eight therapists and they are all working hard and have people waiting to see them, and I think our case managers as well providing those services,” said Timmons.
Highlighting COVID-19 death rates and an increase in substance abuse cases, Timmons says this new number is needed.
“It’s not any of us who can say we came out of this without any problem at all. It was just another day in the life because I think we’ve all been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and just being a part of that situation,” said Timmons.
Texas Health and Human Services has five suicide lifelines centers around the state you can call.
When asked about changes they’re making with the new number answering calls, they responded via email saying they’ve received additional federal funding to expand their capacity.
Receiving 24/7 free and confidential emotional support in a suicide crisis and emotional distress, Timmons says the number supports their initiative of having zero suicides across the state.
“I think a lot of times people think if they ask people about suicide, then that will put the thought in their head that that’s something that they should do, and that is not the case ever,” said Timmons. “When we fail to ask, we fail to provide the CPR needed for that crisis.”
The new number will also have services available to help veterans and active-duty military in similar circumstances.