OUR VIEW: Know 9-8-8 just like you know 9-1-1

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022

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Over the weekend, we published a story about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline changing its number to 9-8-8 on July 16.

Much like the easily distinguishable 9-1-1 — probably the first phone number we all learn as kids — 9-8-8 will be the go-to for anyone experiencing a mental health emergency. Once 9-8-8 goes live, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, experiencing delusions, or displaying severe symptoms of mental illness, you should call 9-8-8 instead of 9-1-1.

The plans for 9-8-8 have been in the works for a while, and we think it’s a fantastic idea that will allow people in the midst of a mental health episode to get the help they need.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). That’s one in every five adults.

One in every 20 adults experienced a serious mental illness in 2020.

Just about everyone knows someone who has dealt with a mental illness. The most prevalent in the U.S. was anxiety disorders, according to NAMI. Major depressive episodes (8.4%), posttraumatic stress disorder (3.6%) and bipolar disorder (2.8%) were also fairly prevalent.

NAMI says that people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.

People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.

It’s also estimated that at least 8.4 million people in the U.S. care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34 in the United States and the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. overall.

Check on your loved ones to ensure they are doing OK. Mental health is as important as our physical well-being. If they need someone else to talk to in the midst of a mental episode, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 800-273-8255.

Soon, it’ll be available at 9-8-8.