988 is nearly one month old

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 3:22 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It may not look like it, but compared to more than a month ago, there’s been an increase in calls at the Crisis Support Services of Nevada.

That’s all due to the new nationwide crisis call number 988 which went live in mid-July.

“So the first weekend we saw a 45% increase in volume,” says Rachelle Pellissier with the Crisis Support Services of Nevada. “That leveled out over the first week to about 22.5%. And then for the full second half of July, it was about 30%,” she says.

That’s compared to calls coming in prior to the 988 implementation. The number is part of a nationwide effort to combat mental illness particularly when it has reached a crisis level.

The 1-800 suicide prevention hot line is still in service, but Pellissier says 10-digits are tough to remember when there are life or death thoughts on a caller’s mind.

“You only have to remember a three-digit number 988,” says Pellissier.

The experience here mirrors what has happened on a national basis. Numbers show nationally calls to centers like this went up 45% when compared to prior to the transition---60% when compared to last year at this time.

There may be some curiosity or novelty to calling 988, and that might account for some of these higher percentages in call volume.

But not all of it.

An easier number, which here is answered on average within 20 seconds, means the caller is more easily connected to someone who cares and perhaps deescalates a situation that could easily become life threatening. When 988 first came out social media posts indicated that callers would be turned into the police. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a matter of fact, Pellissier says 988 will ultimately prove it saves lives.

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