Central Michigan community members say new 3-digit suicide hotline is helpful

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) — The national suicide hotline number was changed to 988 on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people commit suicide each year in the United States. In Michigan, this happened more than the national average.

Now, calling 988, wherever you are, can help you in a mental health crisis.

Shannon Norris felt that hotline number change on a personal level. She knows what it’s like to have a mental health crisis and call the helpline.

“You know one of the worst cases of losing a child too soon and you know you think about it. Especially as a parent,” Norris said. “There is a club of parents who have lost their children. all; you just want to go be with your child.

During Shannon Norris’ 51 years, she has faced many traumas, including the loss of a child. She has since thought about suicide and used the national hotline. As it’s down to three digits now, she told News 10 it would be easier and more convenient for someone in crisis to call. 988 launched nationwide on Saturday, July 16. It connects people in crisis to mental health professionals 24/7.

Now, despite the potential benefits, peer support specialist Frances Kanous said there is still work to be done.

“These basic needs are one of the many reasons I get 988 calls. People whose basic needs aren’t being met,” Kanous said.

Kanous also said that some of these core contributors to suicidal thoughts and actions need to be looked at more closely. Some of these include not having access to housing, food or health care. Norris and Kanous shared that there are alternative options for calling the hotline such as having a passphrase.

“You text a friend who lets them know ‘hey, I feel really bad, but I don’t really want to say all that stuff,'” Norris said.

Kanous adds that some crisis hotlines, like the Trevor Project, have a texting feature for those who may not be comfortable talking on the phone. But she thinks talking to family and providers also helps.

“Natural support beforehand, meaning people in your life like family and friends,” Kanous said. “And then if you have professional support like a therapist or a doctor. You know, just try to make sure you’re using those people, so the people in your life know what’s going on.

Other suicide prevention resources in Lansing include the Fledge Foundation, the Women Center for Greater Lansing, and the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties.

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