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Missouri prepares for new ‘911 mental health’ hotline


ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Within the Chad Coalition office, Marine McCord works to raise awareness and prevent depression and suicide. It’s a passion born out of tragedy after her son Chad committed suicide at the age of 18.

“I think most parents are like me and my husband and think ‘well, that’s never going to happen in our family,’ but it happened,” Marine McCord said.

There are resources available for parents and young people, but soon one resource, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, will become more accessible.

“One number for all your behavioral health needs,” says Bart Andrews, clinical director of Behavior Health Response located in St. Louis City.

That number will soon be down to just three digits – 988. The three-digit helpline will launch nationwide on July 1.

BHR staff members will be among those answering the phones. Currently, they provide 24/7 crisis support and telephone advice, answering thousands of calls per month. The move to three-digit numbers should grow the number of callers exponentially.

“We know that when you make it easier to call the crisis line, more people will call. So we want to make sure that we can answer all the calls that are going to come in,” Andrews said.

In Missouri, they have already worked to increase membership. A recent New York Times report shows that some states are unprepared for change and funding is an issue.

“Missouri did a really good job,” Andrews said.

Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed budget allocates $26 million to the 988 program according to Andrews. If approved, he thinks it will go a long way to ensuring there is help when someone in crisis needs it.

If you or someone you know needs help, the number to call now for Suicide Prevent Lifeline is 800-273-8255.


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