DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — It’s been almost two months since 988 replaced the 10-digit suicide prevention number, and local mental health advocates say it’s working well so far. Two organizations in Eastern Iowa are fielding the calls and texts in our state.
NAMI Iowa Executive Director Peggy Huppert said in the first month, they answered more than 1872 phone calls and 535 text messages. Huppert anticipated the higher volume of calls and texts and said the trained counselors on the 988 system are providing the resources that 911 could not.
“The fact that 80-90% [of calls] can be resolved without having to send someone out is huge because it relieves law enforcement and fire/EMT of having to respond to those calls, and a lot of them are not trained to do so,” Huppert explained.
“We don’t have enough beds. We don’t have enough places for people to go. So if more people can be stabilized and assessed and referred without ending up in jail or the emergency department, that will be huge and I think that is what we’re going to see.”
You can dial 988 at any time for help with suicidal, mental health, or substance use crises.