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Missouri sees 4,000 calls monthly through 988 suicide crisis line

"Our data is showing that our young folks are having more suicidal thoughts than the past," BHR's Chief Clinical Officer said.

ST. LOUIS — With every call coming through, clinical care specialist Andrea Kostadinovic knows their program can be a lifeline.

She's one of the staff members at Behavioral Health Response, known as BHR.

Credit: KSDK
Andrea Kostadinovic

"Some people are experiencing a crisis and they are in their lowest point of their life. We are doing everything from de-escalation, in-the-moment support, from getting them connected to resources and suicide crisis intervention," she said. 

Since 1994, BHR has grown, even becoming one of the call centers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 in the St. Louis region.

It's been almost a year since the three-digit code was activated in mid-July of 2022.

In the state of Missouri, six agencies handle every call. 

When you dial 988 in Missouri, your call will be routed to the closest 988 center based on your phone number.

BHR handles the Eastern Region of Missouri, which covers St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, Iron County, Washington County and St. Francois County, while Compass Health Network provides service to 25 counties within the state, including St. Charles County. 

BHR's Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Bart Andrews, said Missouri’s volume has increased in the last six months. 

"988 is at an additional 4,000 calls per month for the state and we expect that to rise and double over the next year. Anywhere from 30% to 40% of those folks are dealing with active suicide crisis, they are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Our data is showing that our young folks are having more suicidal thoughts than the past," Andrews added. 

A bump in calls means a bump in hires.

"We are actively hiring. We've been hiring nonstop, about three to five people a week. All these positions are remote," he shared.

Now, he's getting the word out, hoping to gain financial support for ongoing efforts to continue helping the community. 

"We use that money to support our clinicians. Our clinicians work 24/7 days a week, our clinicians make sure to see that line is staffed all the time. So we use that funding to support our staff to treat them and their hard work," Andrews said.

It'll go towards specialists like Kostadinovic, who'll bring that support directly back to the lines.

She shared, "They are never alone. Somebody is there and by reaching out and allowing someone to hear and help can make a huge difference in their life."

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can reach BHR at 314-469-6644 or call 988.

You will be connected to trained counselors.

For job opportunities at BHR, click here

If you'd like to donate, click here.

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