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New national suicide prevention hotline to provide convenient resources

New national suicide prevention hotline
Posted at 6:38 AM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 08:44:53-04

COLORADO — A new resource will be available to people needing emergency mental health services launched on Saturday, July 16.

988, the new national suicide prevention hotline, is modeled after 911 and aims to give people a convenient and easy way to access support during a crisis.

Callers will get connected with a center closest to them based on their area code. Centers in Colorado, like Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, are gearing up for the launch of the hotline.

"We've added probably well over 60 people to our team so far and we're not done yet," said Clinic Director Cheri Skelding.

Kevin and Betty Van Thournout lost their son to suicide eight years ago. They now run Heartbeat, a non-profit support group for families affected by suicide. They said the new hotline will add convenient resources on the prevention side of the issue.

"To have this three-digit number to pull out of your pocket and say, '988.' That's huge," said Betty. "We are so thankful that our country came together and decided this needed to happen, that this was important enough that we need to address this and make it easier for people to get help."

The two said they hope 988 can become as well known as 911 and will be taught in schools as part of the curriculum.

"It's so important to know that your mental health is just as important as your physical health," said Betty.

Suicide rates in Colorado have gradually increased each year from 2009 to 2019 and remain well above the national average according to United Health Foundation.

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