If a New Yorker has an emergency, call 911. And now those experiencing a mental health crisis or considering suicide have 988.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that the state had successfully implemented the 988 helpline that allows calling or texting to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), which between 2005 and 2020 received a total of 20,478,698 of calls.
The state president indicated that connecting people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or who are considering suicide with trained counselors can significantly help them overcome difficulties that seem insurmountable.
988: New York implements suicide prevention helpline
“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides hope and support to those who need it most,” Hochul said. “By implementing 988, we are giving these people, as well as their family and friends, an easy-to-remember number that will give them access to the services they need.”
In addition to meeting the growing need for crisis intervention and helping to break down stigma towards those seeking or accessing mental health care, among other goals, the new 988 line will also help remove barriers to medical care and reduce disparities in treatment access, quality, and outcomes for historically marginalized, underserved, and underserved populations.
Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado pointed out that crises do not usually occur at a specific time, so this helpline, available at any time of the day or night, will help save lives.
“It is up to us, as New Yorkers, to provide those struggling with mental health issues with the help they need, when they need it,” Delgado stressed.
So far there are 13 988 crisis contact centers in operation in the state and two are under development.
State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan emphasized that the ‘988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline’ will further strengthen New York’s crisis response system “by connecting people experiencing a health crisis with trained counselors who can provide immediate assistance and access to the services they require.”
Numerous studies support the positive results of these helplines. It has been found that most callers are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a crisis counselor.
In 2019, the NSPL received 137,481 calls from New York, a 73% increase from 2016. In 2020, when the pandemic hit the US, New York State received 142,827 calls, an increase of 13% in just one year.