(Forsyth County, GA) 27 people in Forsyth County took their lives in 2021, according to the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency.
Last Saturday, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was released nationwide.
The lifeline was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the phone number was 1-800-273-8255. The major change in this rebranding campaign makes the number easier to memorize for those dealing with mental health struggles.
Callers will instantly be connected through a phone call, text or online chat to trained mental health professionals and put in contact with ongoing care. Special options are also available for veterans, Spanish speakers, victims of disasters, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing (including sign language services).
In Georgia, the calls will go through the Georgia Crisis and Access Line, which has been in place since 2006.
“Georgia’s work to develop its crisis network over the past 12 years has DBHDD [Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities] well positioned for change,” said Judy Fitzgerald, the commissioner of the state DBHDD. “I am very excited about this work, how important it is, both in preventing suicide and in building a diverse coalition to develop an infrastructure that supports Georgians’ mental wellbeing for generations to come.”
The lifeline is expected to relieve the number of mental health calls to emergency services, save costs related to healthcare by providing early intervention, address the growing need for crisis intervention and end the stigma those facing mental health challenges may feel when reaching out for help.
Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Grimes said the change doesn't affect the department much in terms of responding to these cases.
“What we would do is if somebody called, they felt like a deputy or fire and EMS needed to be sent to them then we have a process,” Grimes said. “We already have a process in place that we could send help.”
Along with the 27 suicide deaths last year, the department responded to 126 suicide attempts and 290 suicide threats. Vibrant Emotional Health estimates that eight percent of 911-calls are related to mental health.
As for how the new lifeline number will impact those in Forsyth County needing help for their mental health overall, Grimes said it is too early to tell for sure.
“I think we don't know yet what the impact is going to be,” Grimes said. “But I know that the goal is to get professional help to somebody that needs it. And so I think time will tell what we see with that.”
Calls to the old National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will continue to be available for callers seeking help.
For more information on the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, visit 988lifeline.org.
If you have a news tip in Forsyth County, contact Justine Lookenott at firstname.lastname@example.org.