Support for 988 suicide hotline needed in state

May is Mental Health Month. By urging my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention, mental health, and crisis care, I am hoping to influence collective change to support #MentalHealth4All.

Right now, individuals in crisis are able to call 800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and those that care for them. Soon, it will be much easier to remember how to reach the Lifeline as the number will be changing to “988” nationwide by July 2022.

Knowing this, it is critically important that states pass legislation now to reliably fund 988 and their state’s crisis response system, just as we fund 911 and emergency services, through small fees on our phone bills. Reliable funding will help to ensure all 988 callers can reach a counselor in their own state who is familiar with and can connect them with local resources. Culturally competent support and local connections can better help all callers through their crisis and in their recovery.

I lost my middle daughter, Nina at the age of 15, to suicide in September 2016. I have also been contacted by three different families who have lost a loved one to suicide during the past five months. We continue to lose loved ones to medical conditions that I truly believe could be helped if we destigmatize mental health by talking about it openly as we do our physical health. I am hopefully that the new 988 number will help people in mental crisis get the help they need easier and faster. I truly believe we can stop suicide and save lives if we all work together.

Join me this month in urging your public officials to fund 988. We all play a role in changing the culture around mental health. Together, we can ensure #MentalHealth4All.

Dawn Krivanek

Mukilteo

Correction: An earlier editor’s note attached to this letter to the editor gave incorrect information regardling 988 suicide hotline legislation this session. The legislation, House Bill 1477, was adopted by the Legislature and signed by the governor.

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