In mid July, the United States transitioned the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 988, an easy-to-remember number for 24/7 crisis care, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Local organizations will take mental health emergency calls via 988 (video)
SAMHSA officials say 988 will save lives
Dr. John Palmieri is the acting director of SAMHSA’s 988 and Behavioral Health Coordination Office.
“The 988 code will be easier to remember and will make it easier for people to access life-saving services,” Palmieri said. “I do think it will ultimately save lives providing crisis support for individuals who are suicidal or facing other forms of emotional distress.”
Cayuga County Sheriff answers questions about 988
Right here in the Finger Lakes, law enforcement are getting the word out about the new line.
Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schneck was happy to answer our questions.
“Recently I know that the 988 line became available nationally for those that are in crisis,” Schenck said. “Someone that’s having potential mental health crisis that is feeling suicidal.”
We brought a question to the sheriff that we’ve been hearing a lot of people ask.
“Does it automatically call 911 and get law enforcement involved, or no?,” FingerLakes1.com reporter Rebecca Swift asked.
“It does not,” Schenck answered. “It’s going to go to a trained crisis specialist that has available the resources in a local community based on the persons address.”
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes says it’s preparing to take crisis calls
One local organization that will be involved is Goodwill of The Finger Lakes. The non-profit said in a release that it is expanding in preparation to take some of those 988 calls.
So if you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health episode, Sheriff Schenck says, “I would highly recommend that if someone facing a crisis situation and they’re not familiar with local resources in their community, that they dial that 988 line and they’ll be in touch with a live crisis facilitator that can help get those resources to you or that individual you’re trying to help,” Schenck added.
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].