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New 9-8-8 Suicide Lifeline benefits and risks explained

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

It now only takes three numbers 9-8-8 to reach a trained mental health professional across the state but some people on the internet are saying there are some risks.

On Saturday the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), launched the 9-8-8 lifeline for anyone in the United States with a mental health, suicidal or substance abuse crisis.

Some people on social media are saying not to call it, not to post about it, and not share the number without knowing the risks.

Casey Muckler, Missouri state Lead of 9-8-8 said the hope is that the lifeline deescalates people's crises. These risks include hospitalization against your will and police showing up to your location.

"We're really hopeful that we'll be able to answer those calls and deescalate the crisis right there over the phone so people don't need that higher level of care," Muckler said.

Muckler said, 9-8-8's goal is not to hospitalize anyone or connect anyone with 9-1-1. She said trained professionals will work to address the crisis and before law enforcement would need to get involved.

"We will always want to send a mobile response team if possible instead of relying on law enforcement. There are some situations in which mobile crisis responders respond with law enforcement," Muckler said.

Mobile response teams would be made of mental health professionals and not police. If someone is a serious danger to themselves or others, the mental health professional could use their discretion to connect them with the police.

Muckler said 90 percent of 9-8-8's calls for a crisis are resolved over the phone. According to SAMSHSA fewer than 2 percent of calls get connected with the police.

"While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or Emergency Medical Services (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner," SAMSHSA said in an email.

988 is anonymous and there is no obligation to share your information.

To reach out to the service call or text 988 or to chat online here 24/7.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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