Three digit suicide hotline available starting Saturday

Columbia, SC (WOLO) –Beginning this Saturday, a new three digit suicide and crisis lifeline will be available for callers nationwide.

By dialing 9-8-8 on any phone, instead of the previously used ten digit number, free and confidential support will be provided for anyone in distress or experiencing a crisis twenty four hours a day and seven days a week.

The national lifeline will be supported by local call centers including South Carolina’s call center in Greenville.

Kathy Eckart, the director of crisis intervention services with Mental Health America of Greenville County, says they want to reach people as quickly as possible. And the new three digit number will help.

“And that’s what this line is for, what we have always been for, is to offer that place for people to talk through issues that they’re going through. Perhaps give them resources if they need to provide a continual support system for them. But then what 9-8-8 will do is expand on that to also collaborate with 9-1-1 if we need and the mobile units from the sc dept of mental health, and the stabilization units,” says Eckart.

John Tjaarda, the South Carolina area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,  says the hotline will be a safe space to get help and gather resources for loved ones of those struggling as well.

“It is a hotline but it can also be a warm line. So if you’ve got a loved one that you’re just worried about you can call that hotline for tips on how to move forward and find them some extra help. It is not just for immediate intervention and suicidal crisis. It is a continuum of care that goes across all aspects of suicide prevention. The amazing dedicated people at the mental health greenville office are trained in all manor of intervention methods and giving advice,” says Tjaarda.

Tjaarda says other programs like S.C. Hopes provide free interactive mental health questionnaires online.

The anonymous screening provides a personal response from a program counselor.

Both Eckart and Tjaarda say it is important to remember that hope and help are always available.

Categories: Local News, National News