211 Broward Joins New Suicide Prevention Hotline in Life Saving Partnership

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There is a new number you can call if you are feeling hopeless.

That number is 988.

It is the new National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number for when you, or someone you know is dealing with a mental health battle.

“There are times when you feel like you’re in a really dark place and you feel like you’re alone,” said Chief Operations Officer for 211 Broward, Francisco Isaza. “I want everyone to know that there’s a number for you to call when you need hope.”

211 Broward is the local response team for when someone calling from a 954 or 754 area code calls 988.

“You’re going to be talking to someone that cares about you, that supports you,” Isaza said.

Calling 988 will connect you with a counselor, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We might receive a call for someone that’s struggling with depression and seeking therapy or any kind of counseling,” said Cecilia Boza, a counselor for 988.

Counselors can also be reached for other crisis situations like financial stress, substance abuse or thoughts about suicide.

“That listening ear might open up a dialogue and a conversation about the potential resources of a support group, or going to counseling or potentially even meeting with a psychiatrist,” Boza said.

The new hotline launched at the national level earlier in July.

Since the partnership with 211 Broward started, there has been an increase in local calls.

Their data shows a 16 percent increase in calls from Broward county.

Callers might be concerned about who exactly will respond when you call 988 for help.

“It definitely does not mean we’re going to be calling 911 when you call,” said Isaza. “When you call, we’re going to be talking to you about your story so we can connect with you and keep you safe.”

Boza explained there are steps and protocols in place to determine which type of response is appropriate to each call.

“What we do is we run a series of different assessments,” Boza said. “One of them is a suicidal and homicidal assessment. We are assessing for just that, if you’re a danger to yourself or others.”

The service is free and confidential, but it does not replace calling 911in case of an emergency.

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