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The planning grant will help Oregon join the rest of the nation in creating a three-digit helpline for those with dark thoughts.

PMG GRAPHIC - Breaking the Silence is a project shining light on Oregon's epidemic of self-harm. Oregon will spend $135,000 on prep work for the nation's new three-digit suicide prevention hotline.

As soon as July 2022, those considering self-harm anywhere in Oregon will be able to dial 988 in order to receive help from a listener on the other end of the line.

The Oregon Health Authority received the planning grant, alongside 48 other states and territories, from Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that manages the current National Suicide Prevention hotline.

"We look forward to having another tool to help us save lives," said OHA Director Patrick Allen. "We're grateful to Vibrant for awarding these funds to help us move forward with our strategic planning and infrastructure to make 988 accessible to all Oregonians."

OHA will spend the funds beginning Feb. 1 on training, technical assistance and infrastructure to ensure that residents can access the new number by July 16, 2022. The agency will also submit a plan in September to Vibrant and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The plan will be crafted in collaboration with Gov. Kate Brown, area hospitals, Coordinated Care Organizations, counties, emergency services and those with relevant lived experience.

"The recognition that mental health and addiction crises are as important and pervasive as physical health crises is a long time coming," said OHA Behavioral Health Director Steve Allen. "The new 988 number is easy to learn and quick to use, allowing for a simple way to access crisis services for anyone struggling with a mental health or addiction emergency."

Anyone in need of support immediately should continue to seek help by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Zane Sparling
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