By Lynne Terry
Oregonians in a mental health crisis have an easy new resource to get help: 988.
On Saturday, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline was launched to connect those who call, text or go online to counselors trained in helping people in a crisis. Counselors will be available 24 hours a day, every day of the week, and they’ll be bilingual, with services in English and Spanish. Counselors also will have interpreters for more than 150 other languages.
The service, which is nationwide, is designed for individuals needing personal help and for those worried about a loved one.
The Portland-based nonprofit Lines for Life will oversee the call service in Oregon except in Marion and Polk counties, where Northwest Human Services will be in charge. Both groups have run crisis hotlines for years.
The new number is part of a nationwide push to bolster crisis care stemming from the congressional passage of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. In the past, the country had the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, made up of call centers across the country, including in Oregon. But the federal government and Oregon plan to expand services to send out small teams to help those who need more help.
“Often, a supportive conversation is all that is needed to help someone in crisis,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement. “When in-person support or intervention is needed, counselors may dispatch a mobile crisis team or first responder.”
For years, Oregon has battled relatively high suicide rates, experts say. An Oregon Health Authority chart shows that overall rates held fairly steady 2019 through 2021.
For the complete story, see the Oregon Captial Chronical.