A new mental health number launches soon. Here’s how Indiana is preparing

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wfyi PBS on 6/21/2022 by Carter Barrett

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK – or text “HOME” to 741741.

On July 16, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will launch a new three-digit number, 988. It’s slated to be the mental health version of 911 and make it easier for people to access mental health care.

It’s also expected to lead to an increase in calls. But many states already struggle to keep up with the current call volume.

In the first three months of this year, Indiana answered 3 out of 4 in-state calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is about average. The rest of the calls were redirected to other states, and about 12 percent of calls from Indiana during that time period — a little more than 1,000 — dropped off before anyone answered.

An analysis of Suicide Prevention Lifeline data reveals that nationwide during the same time period, 18 percent of all calls were abandoned before the caller got help.

In an email, Jim Gavin, a spokesman for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), said the state’s goal is to answer 90 percent of calls from Indiana in state by 2023, by partnering with up to five call centers.

Currently, Indiana has three crisis call centers: in Gary, Muncie and Lafayette.

In addition, “Mental Health America of Indiana, Indianapolis, and RemedyLIVE, Fort Wayne, are in the process of becoming a 988 center,” Gavin said.