Wyo4News Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]
WYOMING — September is National Suicide Prevention Month. As part of its commitment to help reduce suicide deaths across the state, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is sharing key information about the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and its operations in Wyoming.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is free, confidential and always available. The system involves a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Two call centers within Wyoming are part of the lifeline network.
“We believe it’s a benefit for most Wyoming callers to be connected to a Wyoming-based call center, with staff who may be more relatable,” said Alicia Johnson, Crisis/988 Program manager with WDH. “Many partners worked together to ensure this localized resource was available within our state over the last several years and we highly encourage residents to consider calling the lifeline during times of crisis. While the heavy majority of Wyoming calls are answered by a Wyoming-based center, being part of a national network offers back up for those rare times when the local center isn’t able to answer.”
Johnson said common questions about the lifeline include “What happens when you call 988?” and “What happens when you text 988?”
“If they call, we tell people they’ll hear a recorded greeting while the call is routed to a local 988 crisis center. If a local crisis center is unable to take the call, callers are automatically routed to a national backup crisis center,” Johnson said. “A trained crisis counselor will answer the phone, listen, work to understand problems, provide support and share helpful resources.”
People who send a text to 988 or use the chat function available at 988lifeline.org will get a response from a group of lifeline crisis centers that answer both texts and online chats.
Johnson noted another frequent question about the 988 lifeline is “What happens if I don’t have a 307 area code?”
Currently, calls to 988 are routed to the closest crisis center based upon the area code of the phone used. “So if you are a Wyoming resident without a 307 area code, your call would be routed to the center most associated with your current area code,” Johnson said. “Similarly, if someone has a 307 area code but is not physically in the state, that person would be routed to a Wyoming call center.”
Johnson noted counselors may ask callers for their locations in an emergency situation or to provide local referrals. Federal and state partners are exploring opportunities to route calls based on a person’s actual location rather than on a phone’s area code, but that option is not yet available.
Live crisis center calling services are available in English and Spanish, with further translation options in available in more than 250 additional languages. Text and chat support is currently available in English only.
Financial support for Wyoming-based 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline services involves a combination of state and federal funding.
Anyone interested in donating to support overall 988 operations in Wyoming is invited to complete this form found online at https://health.wyo.gov/behavioralhealth/mhsa/988-lifeline-in-wyoming/. Donations through the State of Wyoming are not tax deductible. Another option is contributing directly to one of the two Wyoming-based 988 call centers WDH currently contracts with to provide services within the state:
· Wyoming Lifeline at (307) 527-1113
· Central Wyoming Counseling Center Lifeline at (307) 237-9583
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or at 988lifeline.org.