Call 988 for Suicide Prevention & 211 for SD Resource Information
Golden West telephone subscribers in need can now call two new three-digit numbers for help. Dialing 988 from a Golden West phone line will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and dialing 211 will reach the South Dakota Helpline Center.
“Callers in the United States have been using 911 for emergency assistance for over 50 years,” says Golden West General Manager and CEO Denny Law. “That’s the first phone number many children learn. Now Golden West is pleased to make it easier for our customers to receive other types of help, as well.”
Dial 988 for Suicide Prevention & Mental Health
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the 988 number late in 2019 to connect callers to experts in suicide prevention and mental health. Services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, every day.
Golden West is among the first providers to implement the calling feature for its customers. All telecommunications companies must provide access to 988 before the June 12, 2021 deadline.
Suicide Rate Reaches 70-Year High
The FCC added the 988 number following a rise in suicides. In 2017, the United States experienced its highest suicide rate since World War II. That’s according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA. Congress requested the report as part of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, which it passed into law in 2018.
In 2017, more than 1.4 million adults attempted suicide, according to SAMHSA. More than 47,000 Americans – or one person every 12 minutes – died by suicide.
Rural Counties, American Indian Populations Hit Harder
Only six states had more deaths by suicide per capita in 2017 than South Dakota, which saw 191 suicide deaths, according to statistics on the Centers for Disease Control website. SAMHSA also reports that rural counties experience suicide rates double the rate in urban counties, and American Indian populations are at especially high risk.
“Overall, the report supports the use of a dedicated 3-digit dialing code as a way to increase the effectiveness of suicide prevention efforts, ease access to crisis services, and reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health conditions,” SAMHSA explains in the study.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also accessible by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, by texting HOME to 741741 or online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The simplified 3-digit alternative makes it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.
Dial 211 for South Dakota Helpline Information
The Helpline Center has been the 211 provider in South Dakota since 2001. Callers to the 211 number can get social service information, government information, basic needs resources and referrals to programs to help meet their specific needs. Need can be financial, family, health or disaster-related. The Helpline Center provides information confidentially, 24 hours a day and at no charge to the caller.
This year the South Dakota Legislature expanded the 211 Helpline Center to be accessible statewide. The service continues to add resource information for additional counties. For a complete list and more information, visit helplinecenter.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, text your zip code to 898211 or call 211 from any Golden West telephone line.
Need Increases Due to COVID-19
The addition of both of these options for Golden West customers comes in time to help with the growing anxiety people indicate feeling due to COVID-19. In a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus. People say they are fearful of themselves or loved ones falling ill and are uncertain of the repercussions of the pandemic.
If you or a loved one needs information or resources, call 211 from any Golden West landline telephone. If you or a loved one needs support to overcome internal struggles, call 988. However, if danger of self-harm seems imminent, call 911.