A new tool is live across the United States to help prevent suicides.
In 2020 alone, the Federal Communications Commission says the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes.
What You Need To Know
- A new 988 hotline is now live across the U.S.
- Callers can get instant access to mental health resources in a crisis
- The goal of the number is to streamline an easy to remember number and prevent suicides
Saturday, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline number went live, giving a universal quick number to those in need.
But for activists like Fonda Bryant, more needs to be done to make sure people don’t get to the point that they have to rely on the line.
For Bryant, getting her steps in is more important than just keeping herself physically fit. It helps her stay mentally fit too.
“I have an imaginary mental health toolbox and what I put in my toolbox to help me on the days that depression and anxiety is kicking my butt,” Bryant said. “Exercise, eating right, going for walks in nature, coloring, just all those kinds of things.”
Tools Bryant has been acquiring for 27 years since she survived her first suicide attempt.
“You have to find those good coping skills that are going to help you on those days when depression is kicking your butt,” Bryant said.
Now, Bryant says those who suffer from mental illness have a new tool: the 988 hotline.
The new number doesn’t replace the National Suicide Hotline but gives those in crisis a short option to remember if they are in need.
But, as strange as it may sound, Bryant hopes people won’t have to use the number.
“At the end of the day, I still believe that we need to make sure that we do early detection,” Bryant said. “Get young people help. Helping them to understand that mental health helps not to be ashamed.”
Bryant has dedicated her life to teaching suicide prevention through the QPR Suicide prevention training.
“I tell people, if someone is not willing to open up, that he is kind of reluctant, you just be persistent, and you let them know 'hey, I care about you,'” Bryant said. “I'm concerned about you. When you're ready to open up and talk. I'm here for you.”
She also suggests people keep in mind what you may see on the outside, may not show what’s going on inside.
“You never know what somebody's going through,” Bryant said. “A smile can hide a lot of pain.”
Which is why Bryant believes, with continuing education, and continuing to talk about mental health to break stigmas, those tool boxes can be filled for a time of need.
“It’s great as all these tools are faster to a more precise tool,” Bryant said. “Until we get rid of the stigma, you still are not going to have people taking advantage of a number like 988 that's just all it is to it. Education is still the key to educating people about mental health. It’s not weakness, it’s not crazy. It is a true health crisis. So to me, we got to keep working hard, and I'm gonna keep working hard.”