The New 988 Lifeline: Suicide Prevention Goes National

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The 988 Lifeline will hopefully help lower suicide rates.

Suicide has been a societal problem for as far back as history reaches. These days it’s something that’s reached the level of public health emergency from the perspectives of countless mental health experts. That’s why any and every step forward with regards to suicide is something that could make a remarkably strong difference, and we all hope that the new 988 Lifeline does just that for people who are struggling.

SoCal Empowered is a team of Orange County mental health professionals who have been working with people who were dealing with serious mental health challenges for years. We understand what it’s like to be facing these excruciating difficulties, and we are unfortunately well aware that for some, suicide is the permanent response to temporary and manageable problems, serious as they are. Below we’re going to get into some details regarding the 988 Lifeline, why it’s important and of course, how to use it.

Suicide Statistics In the United States

As mentioned above, the new 988 Lifeline is a critically important step because of the extremely troubling statistics relating to suicide in the United States. According to the United States National Institutes of Health, or NIH, which cited a report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, nearly 46,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2020 alone.

Digging deeper, this number represented:

  • The 12th leading cause of death in the United States
  • The second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 14
  • The second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 34
  • The third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24
  • The fourth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 35 and 44

Broken down further, this number – 45,979 deaths by suicide – equates to nearly 126 people dying every day due to this problem, or more than 5 people every single hour of the year. That’s one person dying by suicide every 12 minutes.

Overall, there were only 11 causes of death that killed more Americans in 2020 than suicide. These included:

  • Heart Disease – 696,962
  • Malignant Neoplasms (cancerous tumors) – 602,350
  • COVID-19 – 350,831
  • Unintentional Injury – 200,955
  • Cerebrovascular problems (brain bleeds, etc.) – 160,264
  • CLRD (Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease) – 152,657
  • Alzheimer’s Disease – 134,242
  • Diabetes Mellitus – 102,188
  • Influenza & Pneumonia – 53,544
  • Nephritis – 52,547
  • Liver Disease – 51,642
  • Suicide – 45,979

It seems clear as to why this new 988 Lifeline is a welcome step towards helping people in need.

About the 988 Lifeline

The 988 Lifeline came about recently in order to simplify the process by which people who are struggling can get immediate help. It’s inspired the 911 line that’s all but universal in our part of the world, even though their purposes are quite different. The 988 Lifeline will route callers to dial it to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This heroic organization has been working to help people avoid suicide for years now, and to date they have already been managing the current National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which can be reached at 800-273-8255.

This phone number will always remain in operation and will work in conjunction with the new 988 suicide prevention line in hopes of talking to as many people as possible who are having suicidal thoughts before it’s too late. It should also be noted that the 988 Lifeline will not be fully operational nationwide until July 16, so those who are experiencing trouble right now should call the 800 number.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

We obviously have every hope that the new 988 Lifeline will save lives. If even one person does not commit suicide after talking to the good people there, this is all more than worth it. We feel the same way here at SoCal Empowered. We will do whatever we can to help people work through their mental health struggles, which everyone understands is one of the leading causes of suicide.

If you or someone you love starts exhibiting behaviors that include:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping routine
  • Withdrawal from regular activities
  • Periods of depressive behavior
  • Periods of seemingly happy behavior
  • The sudden desire to give things away

Act quickly. Even if it turns out that the person exhibiting these behaviors is not in need of help from the 988 Lifeline, it’s still a good idea to rule out this possibility.

In addition, as long as you’re not facing an emergency situation, in which case you should call 911 first, you can always contact our team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered. We’re here to help, and we’ll listen to your situation. If we feel that a stay with us is the best way forward, we’ll tell you so and we’ll work directly with your insurance to clarify coverage before you make any commitment.

If some other form of help would be best, we’ll work to get you moving in that direction so you can do what it takes to get past this difficult time in your life. Regardless of how it ultimately works out, contact us if you need help.

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