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STATE: NCDHHS receives grant to prepare for 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services has been awarded the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 State Planning Grant through Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline). This grant, totaling $129,555, provides support to begin implementing the Lifeline’s new 988 number.

In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Congress recently established the 988 number as a simplified resource for individuals in crisis who need assistance. Anyone needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.

“Crisis intervention and stabilization are critical for suicide prevention, particularly as many North Carolinians are feeling more isolated, overwhelmed and experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic,” said Kody H. Kinsley, NCDHHS deputy secretary for Behavioral Health and I/DD. “We are committed to partnering with the NC Suicide Prevention Call Center, state leaders and other key stakeholders to ensure North Carolina is prepared for the rollout of the national 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number next year.”

In 2019, more than 1,300 people died by suicide in North Carolina. While final data for 2020 is not yet available, more than 37,000 callers received crisis intervention and were connected to community mental health resources to prevent suicide deaths through North Carolina’s Call Center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This represents an 11.5% increase over 2019, with calls received from all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

DMHDDSAS will work with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network member REAL Crisis Intervention Inc. to develop clear roadmaps to address coordination, capacity, funding and communications surrounding the launch of 988. The grant will provide important support as the state anticipates volume growth once the new 988 number becomes operational. DMHDDSAS will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience and others to create a 988-implementation plan and support the Lifeline’s operational, clinical and performance standards that enables access to care.

For more information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

About the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States.

The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 180 local crisis centers, uniting local resources with national best practices. Since its inception in 2005, the Lifeline has engaged in innovative public messaging, development of best practices in mental health, creative partnerships and more to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all.