(WTVO) — Starting next week, states will roll out “988” as the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number.
It is similar to how people can call 911 for emergencies. This has been in works for years, and it will give people in need easier access to help, according to advocates.
“Maybe had my son known that there was a number he could call and ask for help, he would have used it,” said Xavier Whitford, executive director of the Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation.
Whitford lost her son to suicide in 2014. She now runs a foundation in his name, which provides support for those facing mental health challenges, or for those affected by suicide. Whitford thinks that changing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number from ten to three digits is a crucial change.
“The 3 digit is going to be easier for people to remember when they are experiencing a crisis or someone they know is experiencing a crisis, to be able to call and they get connected to a crisis counselor,” Whitford said.
Joanna De Leon is the owner of Rockford-based Relevé Counseling. She said that having 24/7 access to help is the biggest part.
“The texting feature is now available to people,” De Leon said. “So, in this day and age, we don’t make phone calls anymore, the younger generation really loves to text, and it makes it easier and gives you that comfort of something familiar when you’re reaching out for something that could be really hard or difficult in your life that you need help with.”
Both De Leon and Whitford agree that people should not go through anything alone.
“Statically, its proven that if you have a least one person in your life, or one person that you can reach out to, when you feeling that way, your chances of going through with those actions are cut down significantly,” Whitford said.
Whitford added that anyone in need should not hesitate for help, no matter how hard it might be.
“Also it’s about training people early on that when you’re dealing with mental health or you’re feeling suicidal, that you have to be trained almost to be able to reach out to help, because our brain tells us when we’re in that moment, or in that situation, that we’re alone, that nobody cares, that there’s nobody there to help.”
Residents can also text “988” and they will be connected with a local crisis center.