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New 988 hotline provides immediate help for mental health crises

Chattanooga Times Free Press - 10/2/2022

Oct. 2—About three weeks ago, social worker Angie Duncan took a call from a woman alone in her car on a country dirt road.

The woman was depressed, had a loaded gun in her lap and was considering taking her own life. But Duncan, the crisis call center coordinator for Volunteer Behavioral Health, said that's when the woman saw an ad for 988 on her phone and decided to call.

When there's an emergency, people universally know to call 911. But instead of police officers, firefighters or EMS workers, many people experiencing a mental health emergency are better helped by professionals such as Duncan who are specially trained to handle the situation.

That's the idea behind the new, three-digit 988 number — which went live July 16 to serve as a universal entry point for anyone in the United States to reach a trained crisis counselor, 24/7.


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