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Suicide prevention experts say new hotline could save lives

Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 8:33 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Starting Sunday people with 859 area codes will have to dial the whole ten-digit number to make a phone call. The goal is to set up a national suicide hotline where people can dial 988 for suicide prevention assistance. It’ll be similar to dialing 911.

Mental health professionals at New Vista, a mental health organization serving the Bluegrass, believe dialing 988 will be much easier for people get the help they need.

“It’ll save their lives,” said Darcy Miller, regional director of New Vista. “Being able to express their thoughts and express their feelings and whether they’re having thoughts of suicide.”

Federal authorities say a ten-digit dialing system is necessary for the suicide prevention number to work in Kentucky. In the state’s area code 859, some people’s seven digit numbers start with 988. Authorities say Kentuckians dialing their seven digit numbers instead of the full ten could mistakenly put them through to the national suicide prevention hotline.

Miller said suicides have gone up over the past few years. At a time when people are facing pandemic-related stress, she said it’s important for people practice positive, coping strategies.

“Taking care of your body, exercising, nutrition, getting outside, having positive social interactions,” explained Miller.

The 988 suicide prevention hotline will go into effect next July.

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