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988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: What is being done to help those in crisis | To The Point

In August, the three-digit number 988 went live. It’s a 911 of sorts for those dealing with a mental health crisis.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Forty-five percent, that’s how much calls to a suicide prevention lifeline rose after the government made it just a little easier to find help.

In August, the three-digit number 988 went live. It’s a 911 of sorts for those dealing with a mental health crisis.

With the stroke of Gov. Newsom's pen, the state will now provide sustained funding for 988 crisis centers.

Being heard and being seen

Angelina Hinojosa knows just how important that is for someone in need of support because she has been in those dark moments before.

“In today’s society, you don’t see a lot of people that look like you, so it’s easy to get lost in the wrong crowd,” Hinojosa said.

As a native youth, she says she leaned on her tribe — the Pinoleville Pomo Nation.

“Culture is what grounds me whether it's praying or going to ceremony on weekends or talking to my elders," she said. "That’s the way I came back.”

Credit: ABC10

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of Native American youth between the ages of 10-20, according to the Sacramento Native American Health Center.

A startling statistic within a disturbing national trend. 

Suicide rates in the United States increased by 30% between 2000 and 2018. It is the 12 leading cause of death for Americans.

“There’s always a listening ear," said Christie Gonzalez, chief programs officer with WellSpace. "If you can’t turn to a friend or family member, call 988 24 hours a day. We’re there to listen. We won’t judge. We’ll be there to help.”

The shorter 988 number was launched in July, and in the weeks that followed the lifeline saw a more than 40% increase in calls both nationally and locally according to WellSpace Health, which participates in the lifeline in the Sacramento area. 

“Folks with suicidal thoughts or in a mental health crisis have always been there," Gonzalez said. "It’s just that there was no easy way to pick up the phone and make that call.”

She adds it’s a good thing. 

Crisis counselors are more easily accessible. The federal government says the average speed to answer calls through 988 has dropped to 42 seconds.

Gonzales expects crisis centers will be able to help even more people learn about 988 and state funding keeps the lifeline running. 

“We’re here," she said. "We’re here 24 hours a day and we just … we know there are so many folks who need that listening ear and I hope people remember those 3 digits. 988 it really is that easy. “

Advocates say they hope 988 will be as common as 911.


If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call or text 988, or go to 988lifeline.org to reach the suicide and crisis hotline. Click here for more resources available through the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Watch: Suicide Prevention | People to walk in Sacramento to bring awareness to mental health

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