National 988 Suicide Crisis Line Starts Saturday

YOUNGSTOWN – The new 988 National Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline is launching nationally and in Ohio tomorrow.

Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said mental health professionals expect a 40% increase in calls when the new hotline launches.

“We are working closely with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction to ensure a seamless transition,” Piccirilli said. He notes Mahoning County has recorded 22 suicides since January, all of which were male victims and all but two were middle-age older men. The other two were teenagers.

“One number will save lives,” Picccirilli emphasized.

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation believes one in five Ohioans is living with mental health or substance use disorders, which are major risk factors for suicide.

The 988 number will give someone a place to call when they have behavioral health, mental health or addiction crisis concerns. But if it is a life-threatening situation, individuals should call 911, according to Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Some examples of the time to call the new 988 lifeline would be if someone is talking about suicide, planning self-harm or talking about harming someone else.

Additionally the 988 number should be called if someone has a self-harm injury that does not require immediate medical attention; is overusing drugs and alcohol or is simply feeling extreme depression, anxiety or other mental illness symptoms.

The caller will be linked to a trained professional, who will assist them over the phone and link them to an additional care provider if necessary. A mobile team may be sent to the caller’s location and the person may be transported to a facility to be stabilized.

Unlike 911, local law enforcement or paramedics will not be sent out unless it is determined necessary.

National and statewide campaigns promoting and educating the public about the service are scheduled to begin in 2023.

Suicide is listed as the 12th leading cause of death nationally in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Controls. It is the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 14 and 25 to 34, the third leading cause for those 15 to 24 and the fourth leading cause for individuals between the age of 35 and 44. Additionally the number of suicides in 2020 — 45,979 — was nearly double the number of homicides at 24,576.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.

Additionally, the alliance reports while nearly half of the individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, research shows 90% experienced symptoms.

In 2019, the last year complete statistics were available from the Ohio Department of Health, there were 1,813 suicides in Ohio, of which 1,459 were males.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.