By: Cathy Murphy, Director of Marketing & Community Engagement
First Lady Kemp and 988 are a powerful partnership for suicide prevention. Together, they aim to reduce the stigma and barriers associated with seeking help, and to provide hope and healing to those who need it most. By supporting 988, First Lady Kemp is fulfilling her mission to serve and protect the most vulnerable people in Georgia and beyond.
Suicide is a serious public health problem that affects millions of people in the United States and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2019, claiming the lives of more than 47,000 people. Suicide is also a leading cause of death for people aged 10-34 years, and the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24 years. Suicide can be prevented, but many people who struggle with suicidal thoughts or behaviors do not receive the help they need.
One of the barriers to accessing suicide prevention services was the lack of a simple and easy way to reach out for help. Historically, people who were in crisis or emotional distress could call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network of over 180 local crisis centers that provide 24/7, free and confidential support. However, the Lifeline’s phone number, 1-800-273-8255, was not widely known or remembered by the public. Moreover, some people preferred to communicate through text or chat rather than voice calls.
To address this issue, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July 2020. The FCC mandated that all phone service providers make 988 available to their customers by July 16, 2022. By calling or texting 988, people can connect directly with trained crisis counselors who can provide support, resources, and referrals. The 988 number is expected to increase the accessibility and awareness of suicide prevention services, and ultimately save lives. 988 is more than just a number, but a direct connection to caring support for anyone in mental health distress.
First Lady Kemp has been a vocal advocate for the implementation of 988 in Georgia and across the nation. She has made suicide prevention and mental health one of her top priorities. Georgia’s First Lady spearheaded the passage of eight pieces of legislation to strengthen the state’s response to human trafficking and mental health crises.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in immediate crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. To schedule an appointment with a therapist at The Summit for a non-life threatening need, call our office at 678-893-5300 during business hours (9:00-5:00).