MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988 has been up and running for about 10 months now.
The goal is to create a simple way for people in distress to get the help they need, immediately.
Dispatchers at the North Carolina call center are the ones taking those calls.
Since the rollout of the 988 suicide lifeline, the center has seen a 20% increase in call volume. The average length of time crisis counselors spend on the phone with a caller is almost 10 minutes. People can also text the line.
Now, the state is looking to offer more resources.
“There is nothing but strength in looking for help,” Kelly Crosbie, director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Use Services, said.
According to the NCDHHS, since 988 launched, every month there's an average of 1,837 new first-time callers.
Crosbie says that overall there's an increase in callers month after month, she points to the fallout from the pandemic and the success of 988.
“It’s catching on," Crosbie said.
The hotline number is catching on, but the need for mental health support is so great the state is in the process of opening something called a warm line.
It's a non-crisis support line operated by someone who has also experienced personal mental health issues.
“People just need someone to talk to, who have been there, who understands what it feels like with no judgment," Crosbie said.
It'll be an extra resource as the state and Mecklenburg County continues to confront the growing mental health crisis.
Experts say warning signs of mental health issues could include major changes in sleep or appetite or an increase in substance abuse.
As for the warm line, state officials say it's in the earlier stages but it plans to roll out in the next coming months.
If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.