May is Mental Health Month. By urging my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention, mental health and crisis care, I am hoping to influence collective change to support #MentalHealth4All.
Right now, individuals in crisis are able to call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and those that care for them. Soon, it will be much easier to remember how to reach the lifeline as the number will be changing to “988” nationwide by July 2022.
Knowing this, it is critically important that states pass legislation now to reliably fund 988 and their state’s crisis response system, just as we fund 911 and emergency services — through small fees on our phone bills. Reliable funding will help to ensure all 988 callers can reach a counselor in their own state who is familiar with and can connect them with local resources. Culturally competent support and local connections can better help all callers through their crisis and in their recovery.
In November 2020, I learned by phone call from an investigator from the police department that my transgender sister had committed suicide. The news was to tragic and debilitating, but even more damaging was the fact that my younger children heard this news also. There is nothing in this world that I wouldn’t give to take that pain and suffering away from anyone currently contemplating suicide.
Join me this month in urging your public officials to fund 988. We all play a role in changing the culture around mental health. Together, we can ensure #MentalHealth4All.