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Opinion >  Letters

988 will save lives

May is Mental Health Month. By urging my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention, mental health and crisis care, I am hoping to influence collective change to support #MentalHealth4All.

Right now, individuals in crisis can call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress. Soon, it will be easier to reach the lifeline as the number will be changing to “988” nationwide by July 2022.

It is critically important that states pass legislation NOW to reliably fund 988 and their state’s crisis response system, just as we fund 911 and emergency services - through small fees on our phone bills.

In 2017, I lost my son, Devon, to suicide. Devon was 22 years old and represents the growing number of Washington youth that have lost their lives to suicide.

In Washington state, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people 10-24.

Often, families have not had an emergency contact for immediate services when they are in crisis. This bill would provide a single point of contact via a three-digit number, 988, that could connect the caller(s) to crisis centers, follow-up services, crisis response and crisis stabilization care. This has the potential to save a life and prevent another parent from going through what I have.

Join me in urging your public officials to fund 988. We all play a role in changing the culture around mental health. Together, we can ensure #MentalHealth4All.

Phillip Tyler


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