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MDMH receives Suicide Prevention Lifeline grant

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health announced Monday it is receiving $125,000 toward planning for the implementation of a new national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 988.

“The new 988 number will make it easier for Mississippians in suicidal or emotional distress to receive immediate assistance and connect to mental health resources within their communities,” said DMH Executive Director Wendy Bailey. “We are excited to work with partners across the state to plan for implementation of this initiative so Mississippians who need support can count on the Lifeline. Recent data shows that calls to the Lifeline from Mississippians have increased by 40 percent in FY 2020. Improving awareness and access is vital to continue to meet the needs of our citizens.”

The grant funds will be used to help Mississippi Lifeline call centers prepare for infrastructure needs, volume growth, training and educating staff, data collection and access to the Lifeline’s new 988 number. The funding comes from Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the 988 State Planning Grant.

In July 2022, 988 will become the national code for the NSPL, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Federal legislation authorizing 988 as the three-digit code for the Lifeline was passed in October 2020. Mississippians in crisis and concerned family members are encouraged to continue to use the current call number until the 988 number becomes effective.

DMH will develop clear roadmaps to address coordination, capacity, funding, and communications surrounding the launch of 988. The state’s public mental health system will also collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience, and others to create a 988 implementation plan and support the Lifeline’s operational, clinical and performance standards that allow access to care.

“Access to mental health and crisis support has never been more critical for Americans,” said Kimberly Williams, President and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health.  “Vibrant is committed to providing the states and territories with some of the resources they’ll need to plan for the implementation of 988 and to support their local crisis centers. By working together, we will increase access to care, reduce the stigma around mental health and, ultimately, save lives.”

To learn more about MDMH’s Shatter the Silence or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, visit www.dmh.ms.gov/shatter-the-silence or suicidepreventionlifeline.org