Local mental health groups are “optimistic” about the introduction of the 988 hotline

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WOOD) – Mental health organizations in western Michigan are preparing for the official introduction of the new number 988 across the country.

The three digits will provide an abbreviated way to connect to National Suicide Prevention Line.

Christy Buck, CEO of Western Michigan Mental Health Foundationsaid the new number would make it easier to get help in a crisis.

“This is probably one of the most preventative tools used specifically for suicide,” Buck said. “Research shows that keeping someone on the phone for at least five minutes can reduce the thought that they have to take their own lives just then.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1,800,273.8255

The number is scheduled to be released nationally on July 16, but Michigan is one of many states that have not allocated special funding to organizations that will accept these calls for the service. Some operators have already activated the new number.

“I am quite optimistic that everything will turn out great and will be funded. “I know everyone knows the importance of a phone number when it goes from a lot of numbers to 988,” Buck said.

Andrew Bokestein is a strategic project manager with Network 180where calls are usually diverted to Kent County.

We haven’t seen a huge increase yet, but we think it’s because there hasn’t been a huge focus, to insist on doing it in the community, to explain the new system and the official “live broadcast” hasn’t arrived yet. “Bokestein said.

While some call-processing organizations are concerned that they will not have enough staff or funding and will have to direct more calls outside the area, Network 180 says it is ready.

“In Kent County, we’re lucky to have a lot of resources to help people in need,” Bokestein said. “Implementing this new number and crisis system does not require many new services that Kent County has not yet had.”

Advocates of mental health believe that people in a mental health crisis will feel more comfortable calling 988 instead of 911.

“988 will be a listening line and it’s a line where … the goal is to reduce a person’s stress at the moment and also help him make good decisions,” Buck said.

If you are having difficulty and need someone to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Rescue Line at 1,800,273.8255.

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