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Suicide Prevention
Suicide Prevention

Mental health groups express concern about readiness of new suicide prevention hotline

Leading mental health and suicide prevention groups are expressing concern that the new, shorter number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 988 – will not be ready to handle an anticipated influx of calls when it’s available nationwide next month.

Starting July 16, people seeking mental health services can call 988 to access counselors and response teams at the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Calls will be redirected to the current number, 1-800-273-8255, which will stay operational during and after the 988 expansion.

The new number is intended to make it easier for those in a crisis to reach out to someone who can help, and the federal agency in charge of the hotline expects the number of callers to double from what it was in 2020. But with the more than 200 call centers currently in existence nationwide already stretched thin, mental health groups are worried that 988 could exhaust resources and result in longer wait times and dropped calls. 

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Most Male Suicides in US Show No Link to Mental Health Issues

A majority of American men who die by suicide don’t have any known history of mental health problems, according to new research by UCLA professor Mark Kaplan and colleagues.

“What’s striking about our study is the conspicuous absence of standard psychiatric markers of suicidality among a large number of males of all ages who die by suicide,” said Kaplan, a professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

For the study, published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Kaplan and his co-authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked recent suicide deaths among U.S. males aged 10 and older. 

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Most states appear unprepared for national suicide hotline 988 to take effect

The U.S. is weeks away from launching a three-digit National Suicide Prevention Hotline, able to receive phone calls and text messages, but most states are unprepared for the roll out.  

Starting on July 16, anyone can call or text 988 in order to access the U.S. suicide hotline. It’s an initiative that began under former President Trump when the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law. It requires every state to implement the necessary telecommunications systems to enable phone calls and text messages to 988.  

The law aimed to establish a shorter, universal phone number for people to access suicide prevention support.  

However, most states don’t seem prepared to launch 988, with only 13 having enacted legislation that directly addresses implementing and funding the new hotline, according to National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP). 

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A Mental Health Clinic in School? No, Thanks, Says the School Board

One evening in March, a high school senior named Sydney Zicolella stood before the school board in this rural, blue-collar Connecticut town and described her psychiatric history, beginning in the sixth grade, when she was “by definition, clinically depressed.”

Ms. Zicolella, 17, who wore her dark, curly hair pulled back, is the third of four children in a devout Christian family, and the editor of the newspaper at Killingly High School.

Many students there were struggling, she told the board. She had seen kids “walked, carried and cradled out of counseling, hysterical, not wanting to go to the hospital, but also not wanting to be sad anymore.”

It was not uncommon, she said, for friends to “disappear for months, only to find out that they had been at a mental health hospital right down the road to my house.” She urged the board to approve the placement of a mental health clinic in the school, part of a push by the state of Connecticut to dramatically expand access to care for teenagers.

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