This is our second year participating in the event and we look forward to engaging with professionals working to prevent suicide in Texas. There are numerous exciting projects and initiatives happening in the state. Texas has an impressive suicide prevention collaborative made up of nearly 40 community centers working to serve the entire state, including many who operate 988 as a primary or backup center.
We encourage you to visit our virtual exhibit booth using the Whova app. At our booth you can download several materials about how iCarol is serving suicide prevention centers including 988 centers, and the tools and technology available when you work with iCarol. Our virtual booth will be staffed during conference hours – please chat in with your questions and we’ll promptly respond! If you’d like to meet with us another time to learn more, please schedule a meeting at your convenience.
According to the US Census Bureau, the Hispanic or Latino population, which can include people of any race, was 62.1 million in 2020, or 18.9% of the total U.S. population. This represents 23% growth since 2010 and is the nation’s second largest racial or ethnic group. Over 71% of Hispanics or Latinos speak a language other than English at home, and 28% report that they are not fluent in English. Hispanic or Latino people can face barriers to obtain healthcare, including affordable and accessible mental healthcare. Aside from language, a lack of cultural competency among providers, stigma, and fears related to legal status can all prevent them from getting the assistance they need for any mental or behavioral health concerns.
One of the primary goals of instituting the 988 Lifeline service in the US was achieving greater access to mental health care for all, and a reimagination of what crisis and mental health care can be in communities across America. We know there can be disparities in access to care, and the quality of care itself, for BIPOC individuals including the Hispanic and Latino population. To reduce both language and cultural competency barriers to Hispanic or Latino people receiving care, and to ensure the answer rates for these calls can be as high as calls for English-speaking services, SAMHSA and Vibrant Emotional Health are seeking more Spanish-speaking centers to join the 988 Lifeline network.
If your organization has proficiency in Spanish language mental health, emotional wellbeing, or suicide prevention support through crisis counseling, and are interested in becoming a 988 Lifeline center, please visit https://988lifeline.org/our-network/ and contact the 988 Lifeline through the “Become a Lifeline Crisis Center” tab.
The conference is a convergence of professionals working across the spectrum of the suicide prevention industry, from those operating crisis centers and other direct care services, to professionals working in academic settings conducting suicide prevention research, advocates focused on prevention, education and awareness, and those with lived experience.
So we can continue to stay ahead of the topics that most impact iCarol’s customers and continue to support the work of crisis centers, Aaron will join a number of networking and information events. This includes the Lines for Life crisis center tour, and receptions and networking meetings for 988 centers.
Having supported crisis centers since the earliest days of the Lifeline network, and serving a large portion of the network that are iCarol customers, we have witnessed the Lifeline’s growth year after year, both in the number of participating centers and the volume of contacts the Lifeline receives through calls, chats, and other forms of communication, and eventually transitioning to the 988 initiative. At this year’s update we’re anticipating the latest news on the development and growth of the 988 network. We’re closely following the continuing conversations on how communities are changing their practices around responding to mental health emergencies and similar crises, with a continuing shift towards crisis intervention teams and other professionals leading the response as opposed to law enforcement.
iCarol enthusiastically supports the efforts to reimagine crisis response in communities across the United States. It’s crucial that people everywhere have access to human-focused, culturally competent crisis care that meets their needs whether that be through an empathetic listener on a crisis line, an in-person visit from a mobile crisis response team, or a stay at a crisis stabilization center. It’s our mission to provide tools to crisis centers that help them respond to their community’s needs. We hope you’ll explore our website to learn more about how we are serving this industry.
The discussions at AAS directly inform iCarol’s strategy and product development in the coming months and years, which ensures we will continue to meet the needs of suicide prevention and crisis centers everywhere, providing the tools they need to do their life-saving work. That’s why we want to ensure we take advantage of being together in-person in Portland to have conversations about challenges, needs, and solutions. If you plan to be at the AAS Conference, please stop by our booth to download our guides and materials, including our ebook on choosing software for crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. Aaron will be available for meetings at your convenience to answer your questions, or have conversations about your challenges or projects and explore how iCarol can be of assistance.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced a $282 million investment to help transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from its current 10-digit number to a three-digit dialing code – 988.
Once implemented, the 988 code is intended to be a first step toward transforming crisis care in the United States by creating a universal entry point to needed crisis services in line with access to other emergency medical services.
With funds from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget and additional funds from the American Rescue Plan, SAMHSA’s $282 million investment will support 988 efforts across the country to shore up, scale up and staff up, including:
$177 million to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network operations and telephone infrastructure, including centralized chat/text response, backup center capacity, and special services (e.g., a sub-network for Spanish language-speakers).
$105 million to build up staffing across states’ local crisis call centers.
The team at iCarol is excited to see the commitment and investment on behalf of the US government towards the 988 initiative. We believe that 988 will improve accessibility and equity for Americans seeking emotional support and assistance. By designating a three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crises, our leaders send a clear message that these concerns deserve the same immediate attention and access to assistance as a physical health emergency, while also reducing harmful stigmas that create barriers to treatment. As the leading software provider among the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network of centers, we stand ready to support our customers making the transition to answering 988, and welcome new centers coming on board for the 988 initiative.
This blog was originally published in December 2020. As this pandemic rages on, the message remains relevant, and so we’re sharing it with you again to mark the 2021 holiday season.
Content warning: This post discusses sensitive topics such as suicide and abuse.
In a year as strange and relentless as 2020, I needed a sense of normalcy more than ever this holiday season, and that came in the form of my annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In years’ past, the film’s theme of suicide prevention struck me most. But like a lot of things, the experience of 2020 placed a new filter over the movie for me, and I started noticing elements that, while always there, hadn’t been as noticeable to me before.
The crises of 2020 were relentless. And when the bad news just keeps coming and it feels there’s no end in sight, no clear solution or relief, it can be easy to fall into total despair. George Bailey experiences this very thing in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George passed on his own dreams so the dreams of others could be realized and those he loved could be happy, and for awhile he appears okay with that. Then a series of crises compound, and old trauma and resentments quickly rise to the surface. George, completely devoid of hope and solutions, is now staring into the icy churning waters of a river flowing beneath him. For all his good deeds and sacrifices, look at how bad things are. What was it all for? He contemplates how the world might be better off if he wasn’t here, or if he never existed at all.
George’s scenario got me thinking about the exhaustive work so many people have been doing all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, only to have things stay the same, or get worse, day in and day out, with no relief in sight. When there’s no clear impact or positive change to motivate you, to reassure you that your sacrifices and work matters, how do you keep going? How do you resist despair and hopelessness?
I think the answer is similar to what we see in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George can’t see his positive impact until he’s shown a world without him in it. Perhaps we need to briefly imagine what the world would look like without those forces of good working hard to help others.
What would our world look like now if helplines, contact centers, and other community services didn’t exist?
Contact centers and Information and Referral services like 2-1-1 commonly act as their community’s primary source of information about COVID-19, providing information on everything from common symptoms to look for and where to go to get tested. In many cases 2-1-1 became the official state/provincial source of COVID-19 information. Without that centralized information delivery service, health departments, emergency rooms, and medical offices are overwhelmed with people seeking information. Phone lines jam and human resources are syphoned from direct care treating those who are ill. Fewer people know where to get tested. More people get sick, and more lives are lost as a result.
The economic fallout from the pandemic will be with us for some time. Some say the financial recovery may take longer than public health recovery. Thankfully, people looking for financial assistance for their very survival—help with utilities or food—had places to reach. Places where a compassionate and knowledgeable specialist could, in a single interaction, provide ideas and resources that may help with several needs. Without those contact centers, those in need are left feeling lost and overwhelmed. Already worn down by their situation, they must now spend time and effort navigating the network of community services on their own. They don’t know how the systems work. They are frustrated and even more overwhelmed. It takes longer to access assistance. They miss several meals. They only find out about a fraction of the services for which they were eligible.
Quarantines and stay-at-home orders kept people at home more, and for many the people they live with are a source of comfort. For others, it’s a source of conflict or even danger. Suddenly, vulnerable individuals suffering abuse at the hands of a parent or partner, or LGBTQIA youth living with unsupportive family members, were cut off from their daily escapes and support systems. Without services specializing in providing safety and emotional support, they become more isolated. Tensions in the household rise. Abused partners and Queer youth have no professional confidential counseling to access quietly and privately through chats or text messages. There’s no emergency shelter to escape to.
Viruses and physical health have taken center stage this year, but the mental health toll is undeniable. We’ve been going through a collective, worldwide trauma. Everything familiar was disrupted and the entire concept of “normal” disappeared overnight. Many people are experiencing emotions they aren’t sure what to do with, and they aren’t ready to talk to their friends or loved ones. Others lack those connections and are processing things all on their own. Imagine a world without an outlet to help one cope with those feelings. No warmlines or impartial empathetic listeners, no crisis or suicide prevention services. The emotional suffering deepens and spreads, and we lose even more people to a different type of pandemic—suicide—that was present long before COVID-19.
So yes, 2020 was the worst, filled with more crises happening all at once than many of us could have imagined. And in a seemingly never-ending string of challenges, it may feel at times like your contributions, all your exhaustive efforts, aren’t making a dent. If reassurance and evidence of your impact seems elusive, think back to George Bailey’s tour of seedy Pottersville, the bad place version of Bedford Falls. Close your eyes and take a stroll through that scary, imaginary world without organizations like yours, and see that things could actually be much worse. It’s because of the good work of those who care, like you, that it isn’t.
Today the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline was featured in a special report by KTVB 7 news in Boise, which highlighted their services and impact on the community.
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Director Lee Flinn shared that, “Idaho’s suicide rate right now is 46% higher than the national rate. So it’s quite high…We really are here for anyone who is in crisis, whether it’s a suicidal crisis or a different kind of crisis, and we want people to know that we’re always here and we’re always ready to listen.”
The volume of incoming requests for help is increasing, with August bringing in the most contacts to date. And while helping a record number of people is keeping their 80 volunteers and staff busier than ever, Lee Flinn feels it’s a good sign, saying, “it means that people are reaching out for help, and we want people to reach out for help.”
To watch the video and read the full story, visit the KTVB website.
When your organization is featured in the media, be sure to let me know so I can share it on our blog!
On Wednesday, June 16, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that Vibrant Emotional Health will be the administrators of the new 988 dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States. Vibrant, in partnership with SAMHSA, has administered the Lifeline since its creation in 2005. Click here to read SAMHSA’s full statement.
The team at iCarol extends our congratulations to Vibrant Emotional Health for being designated as administrators of the 988 dialing code. Through our years working with Vibrant Emotional Health and the many Lifeline Network Centers answering calls to 1-800-273-TALK, we have seen firsthand the passion and professionalism these teams bring to their work addressing the critical public health issues of suicide and mental health. We believe that 988 will improve accessibility and equity for Americans seeking emotional support and assistance. By designating a three-digit number for suicide prevention and mental health crises, our leaders send a clear message that these concerns deserve the same immediate attention and access to assistance as a physical health emergency, while also reducing harmful stigmas that create barriers to treatment. As the leading software provider among the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network of centers, we stand ready to support our customers making the transition to answering 988, and welcome new centers coming on board for the 988 initiative.
The conference is a convergence of professionals working across the spectrum of the suicide prevention industry, from those operating crisis centers and other direct care services, to professionals working in academic settings conducting suicide prevention research, and advocates focused on prevention, education and awareness.
So we can continue to stay ahead of the topics that most impact iCarol’s customers, on Wednesday Dana will attend the Crisis Continuum pre-conference program, which concludes with a session on network updates and future directions for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network.
Having supported crisis centers since the earliest days of the Lifeline network, and serving a large portion of the network that are iCarol customers, we have witnessed the Lifeline’s growth year after year, both in the number of participating centers and the volume of contacts the Lifeline receives through calls, chats, and other forms of communication. At this year’s update we’re anticipating the latest news from the 988 transition plan and how that will affect members of the Lifeline network. We’re also closely following the continuing conversations on how communities are changing their practices around responding to mental health emergencies and similar crises, with a shift towards crisis intervention teams and other professionals leading the response as opposed to law enforcement.
These discussions directly inform iCarol’s strategy and product development in the coming months and years, which ensures we will continue to meet the needs of suicide prevention and crisis centers everywhere, providing the tools they need to do their life-saving work.
If you plan to be at the AAS Conference, please stop by our virtual booth to download our new guides and materials, including a brand new ebook on choosing software for crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. We’ll also be available for virtual meetings at your convenience to answer your questions, or have conversations about your challenges or projects and explore how iCarol can be of assistance.
The 54th Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is scheduled to be held in Orlando, Florida, April 21-24, 2021, with pre-conference workshops taking place on April 21st. The event will offer a mix of in-person and virtual content with a theme of “Social Contexts in Suicide: Upstream Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Prevention.”
AAS has extended the Call for Papers deadline to November 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. They invite proposals for individual papers, posters, panel discussions, symposia, and workshops, and are also accepting presentations for several preconference programs:
AAS Preconference Workshops
Crisis Services Continuum Conference
Military and Veteran Suicide Prevention Preconference
Proposals must follow specific guidelines and be submitted online to receive consideration. Abstracts that do not conform to the guidelines may not be reviewed. Applicants will be asked to select keywords identifying key elements of the submission, and those keywords will be used to index the conference program.
President Donald Trump recently signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act into law in the United States, a move celebrated by mental health and suicide prevention advocates. The act assigns 9-8-8 as a national, three-digit number dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health crisis response. The number will become active and available in 2022.
This law signals a recognition that mental health crises are just as important and deserve the same emergency response as the medical emergencies which are reported to their own national three-digit number, 9-1-1.
The law does not create a new service, as the US already has a national number for suicide prevention. Instead, this new law creates a the pathway for a new, easier way for people to reach existing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services available through the existing Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a service provided by a network of about 170 local crisis centers around the country.
Once three-digit dialing is activated in 2022, experts anticipate that call volume to the crisis centers will increase. The new law creates funding and resources for local crisis centers that will enable them to meet this demand. And, similar to nominal fees charged that support 9-1-1 services, the law will give states the authority to levy fees on wireless bills to support the 9-8-8 service.
The iCarol team applauds Congress and the President of the United States for making three-digit dialing for suicide prevention a reality after years of advocacy by mental health and suicide prevention experts. We have no doubt that the establishment of 9-8-8 will make it easier for people in crisis to reach assistance and receive help. As the software provider for many of the Lifeline crisis centers, iCarol pledges to monitor the progress of 9-8-8 activation, and provide assistance and support to our customers throughout this process.