Like 911 for emergencies, 988 provides support to those in crisis
On Saturday, July 16, the U.S. launched a National Suicide and crisis lifeline akin to the 911 Emergency line that has become a familiar standard in seeking help during emergencies. The new 988 number provides national support for those seeking help during emotional crisis.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in "suicidal crisis or emotional distress" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through a national network of local crisis centers.
Nationally, the suicide rate is 13.48 deaths per 100,000 residents, an average of 130 suicides per day — according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The suicide rate in Clackamas County is higher — coming it slightly above the national average at 16.3 deaths per 100,000 according to Blueprint Clackamas — a website sponsored by Clackamas County Public Health Division.
Clackamas County deaths from suicide decreased slightly last year, but county officials remain concerned about the suicide rate increase over the past decade, especially among residents ages 45 to 64. There were 72 county residents who died by suicide in 2021, compared to 54 in 2018, 68 in 2019 and 79 in 2020. Fortunately for Clackamas County residents, the national 988 number — operated through a network of local crisis centers — is not the only option for those in emotional distress.
Clackamas County employees, partners and residents also came together May 4 to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month by planting Signs of Hope in the Red Soils Campus Circle of Honor.
The signs' inspirational messages remind those who may be struggling with mental health issues: "You are not alone." Mental health concerns are as common as physical health concerns, county officials say, and there are county employees trained to help people find and get the resources they need. Clackamas County then recently began handing out colorful wristbands with encouraging messages — "Are you OK?" and "you are not alone" on the outside of the bands — with the county's Crisis and Support Line phone number, 503-655-8585, available on the inner face of the wristbands. "I have a ton of clients who have used the Crisis and Support Line, and they all give it great reviews," said Jered Hinshaw, a mental health navigator with Clackamas County's Children, Family and Community Connections Division. "The folks who staff that line are trained, caring professionals who help callers work through a crisis, however big or small."
The rubber bracelets were designed by Hinshaw and Olga Salinas, Family Engagement Coordinator, with the phone number of the mental health Crisis and Support Line run by the county's Behavioral Health division.
The idea to add the Crisis and Support Line number on the inside of the bracelets came from Salinas, "When people need help, you need to be able to lead them somewhere," she said.
Hinshaw and Salinas, with support from Division Director Adam Freer, produced the bracelets and distribute them directly to clients and at a variety of community events. "They've been a huge hit," Hinshaw said.
These wristbands serve more than just fashion, they can help save lives.
If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, please call the 24/7 Clackamas Crisis and Support Line at 503-655-8585.
Resources for suicide prevention and mental health support:
• Clackamas County Crisis Line
Provides 24/7, free and confidential support.
• Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741 24/7 crisistextline.org/texting-in
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• Oregon Youthline
Text: teen2teen to 839863
• Senior Loneliness Line
• The Trevor Project Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ youth
• Trans Lifeline's Peer Support Hotline
• Veterans Crisis Line
800-273-8255 press #1
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