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988: a New Era for Mental Health Resources
In recent news, the traditional ten-digit suicide hotline has been shortened to a simple three-digit number– 988– as of Saturday, July sixteenth. This alteration has created an impressive new precedent for the scope of national mental health resources. The Biden administration, with the additional action of the Federal Communications Commission, Department of Veteran Affairs, and Department of Health and Human Services, has worked to establish and fund this program.
The 988 number functions similarly to 911, in that anyone can call and get immediate assistance. The program has plans to establish further local networks so that callers have a variety of options for treatment and intervention, whether their crisis be acute or not. Though this will take further funding and continued time in action, the program will ideally become more streamlined, supported, and comprehensive as time goes on.
Although the phone number and its institution have their fair share of problems, as a number tied to a vast federal network and as a very recently instated resource, this change signals a new and promising beginning for the normalization of mental health discussions and resources. It is worth acknowledging the fact that 988 does not constitute therapy or even intimate conversation. Callers aren’t choosing the responder that they get. But ultimately, if you or a loved one is in immediate crisis, it is a place to consider turning to– another resource, certainly worth exploring.
You may not be surprised to hear about the harmful effects from using social media, especially on the younger generations. Teen suicide has risen dramatically over the past decade. Some researchers have found a correlation between social media use and the risk of suicide, but there are many factors at play. We have put together an in-depth guide about the link between social media use and suicide as well as how you can assist a friend or child if you think they are suicidal. Below are a few resources from our friends at the Social Media Victims Law Center:
Social Media & Suicide - socialmediavictims.org/social-media-and-suicide/
A guide about lawsuits against Meta (Facebook and Instagram) for the harm they cause users - socialmediavictims.org/meta-lawsuit/
U.S. Transition to 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Begins Saturday - SAMHSA
Mistrust lingers in Black communities amid 988 launch - AP News
At a 988 call center, volunteers embrace a new number while providing familiar hope - Stat