988: The new 911 for mental health

September 07, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

When it comes to suicide, no one is immune.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of death for people aged 10-34. In 2020 alone, one person died by suicide about every 11 minutes in the U.S. according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Those struggling often feel too ashamed to reach out for help or they don’t know where to turn. Now there’s a new resource that can help save lives.

In July 2022, the first nationwide 3-digit mental health crisis line, 9-8-8, became available in the U.S.

988 is the 911 for mental health emergencies. Instead of a dispatcher sending police, firefighters or paramedics, 988 connects callers with trained crisis counselors. The 24/7 crisis Lifeline offers quick help for anyone experiencing for a mental health, substance use or suicide crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.

No matter where you live in the U.S., you can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for yourself or a loved one who may need crisis support.

Who is at risk?

Suicide is complex and many different factors may contribute to someone making a suicide attempt, such as:

  • Depression, other mental disorders or substance use disorder
  • Certain medical conditions, chronic pain
  • Family history of suicide, a mental disorder or substance use disorder
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Having access to lethal means, such as a weapon or pills
  • Loss of any type (relationship, work, financial)
  • Feelings of hopelessness or isolation

What are the warning signs?

There are warning signs that may indicate someone is considering suicide that can be remembered with the acronym IS PATH WARM:

  • Ideation - Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself, looking for ways to do it (seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means), talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
  • Substance (alcohol or drug) use, excessive or increased

  • Purposelessness, no reason for living or sense of purpose in life
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Trapped, feeling like there's no way out
  • Hopelessness

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and society
  • Anger, rage, seeking revenge
  • Reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Mood changes, dramatic swings between mood states

Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored. Warning signs are imminent and, once identified, action should be taken.

The easy-to-remember 988 Lifeline builds on the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255). Calls to the old line (now the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline) will still go through.

Anyone who needs support for a suicidal, mental health and/or substance use crisis can call 988 for help.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, 24/7 help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is committed to taking steps to prevent suicide and raise awareness for mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, 24/7 help is available.

Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

In a recent Health 360 with Dr. G podcast episode 49, “Mental health help: We need it now more than ever,” Dr. G and his guest talk about ways to close the mental health access gaps in America. Listen to the podcast.

We offer Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a program that teaches people how to help someone with a mental health problem or crisis. To sign up for a MHFA course, visit us online or call 630-646-5158.


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