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New suicide hotline number, 988, sees increase in Missouri callers

Call centers for the new Suicide Hotline number, 988, say the first weekend was a huge success.

ST. LOUIS — Provident Behavioral Health said they have had dozens more calls than a typical weekend which means this new program is definitely working to help those in need.

A Provident Behavioral Health spokesperson said, “The increase in calls is evidence that the word is getting out about this new number and people recognize they need it, and the 988 dialing code is making it easier for people to reach out. They expected an uptick and staffed accordingly.”

“So I would easily say that we are in the top 5% of states that are a little bit more prepared and ready throughout the nation,” Lauren Moyer with Compass Health said.

You can call or text 988 to be connected immediately to a mental health professional, something Marian McCord with Chads Coalition For Mental Health said is so important at times when people feel alone.

“I’m just excited for those people that are sitting in so much pain that they can easily connect to resources and get connected to help because there is help and there’s hope,” McCord said.

Moyer said 90% of callers just need someone to talk to and can be helped right there on the phone but the other 10% need more intervention and through 988 they can get that to them as well.

“We're enhancing our mobile crisis response across the state. And that's where I can come to where you are in the moment versus calling a 911 officer to come to your home, or an ambulance to your home or tell you to go to the emergency room,” Moyer said.

And if a mobile response isn’t enough there are more steps beyond that creating a whole continuum of care.

“We have these behavioral health crisis centers in different areas of the state. We have 10 up and running now that we can use 24/7, 365 as an alternative to the emergency room,”
Moyer said.

Next, they hope to get geolocation software similar to what they use for 911 calls to get more precise locations of their callers to connect them to the closest call center to them at that moment.

If you are experiencing a mental crisis, need to talk or are trying to help someone that is all you have to do is call 988. 

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