SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — In South Carolina, there's a single call center based in Greenville County that answers calls from all across the state as part of the suicide prevention hotline. This has been the case since 2007. Then in July 2022, call center leaders say the launch of the new 988 hotline increased suicide awareness and the demand for help.
Mental Health America of Greenville County says it was previously used to receiving about 65 calls a day on average. In the first week of the 988 launch, the hotline saw a drastic jump to more than 130 calls a day.
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.
“We have definitely seen an increase and that’s just from the calls," Kathy Eckart, director of crisis intervention services for the nonprofit, said. "That doesn’t count the texts and chats that have been coming in also.”
Through the nonprofit volunteers and staff are trained to answer the calls. Yet still, with an increase in calls and not enough people, the unanswered calls are then rerouted to the national hotline as a backup system.
“If we are unable to answer the call it does roll and it will roll out of South Carolina," Eckart said. "Of course, we would like to answer all the calls in South Carolina because laws are different and rules are different and just resources are different state to state.”
In four states, a fee helps to fund the 988 hotline. South Carolina is not one of those states.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the suicide prevention call center support its needs. A suicide awareness walk will take place Saturday, Aug. 6. at 11 a.m. in Romare Bearden Park in Uptown Charlotte.