You will have to remember fewer digits when you are in crisis or are contemplating suicide. July 16th is the day when the dialing code 988 will be activated for those looking to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline consists of 200 crisis centers with counselors available to chat with people during their time of need. Studies have shown callers leave the lifeline less overwhelmed and depressed after speaking with a counselor. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski travels the region training communities in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), a suicide prevention training course. With an easier number to remember and program into your phone, Joski hopes it is a resource more people use when they or someone they love need someone to talk to in a crisis situation.
Establishing the new three-digit code has taken years to finish before its national launch in July, but the current Suicide Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) will remain. You can read more about the 988 Suicide Lifeline below.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
As we wrap up the month of May and the recognition for Mental Health Awareness, I wanted to share a new resource which will be provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This will be a vital resource which provides real time access when it is most needed.
For those who have attended my QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) sessions, you know that having a resource available when a family member or loved one is considering suicide is critical to a positive outcome. For many of us, we do not have those resources readily available when it really matters, which is the driving force behind the creation of the “988” Suicide and Crisis Hotline.
This service has been many years in the making and will be active on July 16, 2022. Until that date you can still access this service through the standard 10-digit number: 1-800-273-8255.This resource isn’t limited to just suicide prevention, but will also be a great tool to direct friends and family to should they need help deal with mental health issues or in a moment of substance use crisis. You can call this number knowing that those on the other end of the call are trained counselors who can assist.
In Wisconsin, this service is being provided through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and is operated by Family Services of Wisconsin, who bring with them a myriad of specialties in de-escalation and coping skills.
This service is a great compliment to our already existing local services, which is another key part of this system’s design in that if and when appropriate, the caller can request to be connected with local services offered right here in our own community. All of these programs are being established and promoted so that each of us in our own way can feel more confident in engaging with those in crisis, knowing that we are supported and connected to valuable professional resources should they be necessary.
The key to this resource as well as this entire month of awareness is that we increase our comfort level in asking the right questions, and providing the support and empathy that can make the difference for someone experiencing a mental health crisis. It may be enough that we take the time to listen, and that may be all that is needed to assist that person. It may also mean having a longer conversation including the encouragement of seeking a higher level of care. Regardless of the resources you provide, the most important resource is your time and patience.
We all live busy lives, but we can not let that interfere with our primary obligation to each other’s wellbeing. The most valuable gift we can give to each other is the gift of hope, and anyone from 10 to 100 can offer hope to another. Don’t underestimate the impact you can make in the life of another. For more information on the 988 resources, please visit: