988lifeline: Big News in Mental Health

In two days, states will roll out 988 as the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, similar to how people can call 911 for emergencies. When calling, the individual will be connected to a trained mental health professional.

All phone service providers will be required to connect callers who dial 988 to the lifeline starting July 16. The existing lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255. This important change has been in the works for years, and many mental health professionals say it will help expand much-needed services and make them more accessible to people seeking help.

At the same time, it is important to note that the mental health industry has been overwhelmed, especially in the past two years. With a surge in phone calls, availability of resources is crucial. Another area of concern is ongoing financing. Congress has allocated one time funding; after that it is up to individual states.

Some Myths about suicide
Myth 1: Talking about suicide increases the chance a person will act on it.
Fact: Talking about suicide may reduce, rather than increase, suicidal ideation. It improves mental health-related outcomes and the likelihood that the person would seek treatment. Opening this conversation helps people find an alternative view of their existing circumstances.

Myth 2: People who talk about suicide are just seeking attention.
Fact: People who die from suicide have often told someone about not wanting to live anymore or they do not see the future. It’s always important to take seriously anybody who talks about feeling suicidal.

Myth 3: Suicide can’t be prevented.
Fact: Suicide is preventable but unpredictable. Most people who contemplate suicide, often experience intense emotional pain, hopelessness and have a negative view of life or their futures. Suicide is a product of genes, mental health illnesses and environmental risk factors.

Myth 4: People who take their own lives are selfish, cowards or weak.
Fact: People do not die of suicide by choice. Often, people who die of suicide experience significant emotional pain and find it difficult to consider different views or see a way out of their situation.

Myth 5: Barriers to bridges, safe firearm storage, and other actions to reduce access to lethal methods of suicide don’t work.
Fact: Limiting access to lethal means, such as firearms, is one of the simplest strategies to decrease the chances of suicide. Many suicide attempts are a result of impulsive decisions. Therefore, separating someone from a lethal means could provide a person some time to think before doing harm to themselves.

Myth 6: Suicide always occurs without warning.
Fact: There are almost always warning signs before a suicide attempt.

Here are a few common signs:

  • Talking about suicide — making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born.”
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone.
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next.
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence.
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation.
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things.
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this.
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Myth 7: Talk therapy and medications don’t work.
Fact: Treatment can and does work. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by getting treatment for mental illnesses and learning ways to cope with problems and emotional pain.

See also this, post on how to speak to friends and family about depression.

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