TUSCOLA, Ill. (WCIA) — A national mental health hotline is giving people more ways to reach out and so far, it seems to work.
The helpline saw an increase of 150,000 calls, texts and chats in November compared to the year before. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was re-worked last year.
It was launched as 988 and gave people the option to text. We spoke with a group that serves veterans in Tuscola. They say this type of service can help bridge the gap for those who need help but aren’t ready for the first step.
“Taking action immediately could, you know, save your life,” said 217 Veterans President Gunner Edwards.
However, immediate assistance can be hard to find in times of dire need. Especially for those who aren’t ready to open up.
“It’s already hard enough to talk to people you don’t know. It’s already hard enough to build relationships from nothing. So, to talk with someone about the hardest times of your life…” added Edwards.
988 helpline’s ease of accessibility is proving to be the missing piece. It launched in July and by the end of the year it saw a 10% jump in one group alone — veterans.
“A lot of veterans want to play the macho role that they don’t need help and they want to try to toughen it out. And it doesn’t do anything for them. It probably does more harm than good,” said Edwards.
Users can call, text, and even chat online whenever a mental health crisis appears. 988 is designed to be as easy to remember as 911. And some say the text features make it easy to open up.
“The social workers or whoever it is that’s responding, ideally, they’re the ones answering the prayers and can lead you in the right direction,” added Edwards.
He said this is the type of service that gets veterans to start seeking help… And ultimately save their lives.
“If you’re sitting around waiting to get into the VA, it might be too late, and somebody might do something that’s going to hurt a lot of other people,” said Edwards.
The 9888 helpline is available to everyone, and Edwards said it’s a service that everyone should take advantage of.