Crisis Lifelines Make a Difference to Someone Considering Suicide

If you’re considering suicide, it’s all-consuming and you probably don’t have the critical thinking capabilities to sit there and research resources. I know because I’ve been there. 

About seven or eight years ago, I went through a bad bout of depression, and I can tell you from experience that I wasn’t thinking about my future. I wasn’t thinking about the people who loved me. All I could think was that I couldn’t handle the pain anymore.  

With depression, I not only experienced emotional pain, like a lack of pleasure and feelings of hopelessness, but it also translated into physical pain with headaches, muscle aches, digestive problems and exhaustion.  

Of course, thinking back on it now with a clear head, I don’t know how suicide ever crossed my mind. But, the thing is, at that moment, I wasn’t in my right mind. Instead, I felt completely powerless to the pain and to the intrusive and illogical thoughts invading my brain. 

Thankfully, in the midst of these suicidal ideations, I was able to recognize that I needed help. Since I am active in the mental health community, I had a crisis line volunteer’s cell number programmed in my phone. And I called her.  

She was the one who validated my feelings and reminded me, “These feelings will pass. It may not feel like it now, but things will get better.” And things did get better, but, at the time, I couldn’t see past that moment until someone who was trained and knew the exact right thing to say helped me through it.  

I wasn’t cured of my depression through this one phone call, but the woman was able to provide me with additional resources and helped me move out of my suicidal ideations until I could get an appointment with a psychiatrist.  

Because, the thing is, when you’re considering suicide, you don’t have time to make an appointment with your psychiatrist or counselor. When you’re considering suicide, you need help immediately! And most people don’t have the luxury of an expert’s cell number, programmed into your phone, like I did. 

That’s why having a quick, accessible, easy-to-remember resource can mean the difference between life and death. So, the fact that, this summer, a shortened National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number — 988 — launched, is huge for the mental health community.  

When someone is in the middle of a crisis, chances are they won’t remember the Lifeline’s previous number at 1-800-273-8255 (although calling that number will still get you to the same services). But you will likely remember 988 — which will hopefully become just as engrained in our brains as “911.”  

When you call or text 988, you will be connected with a counselor from a Lifeline crisis center who will listen, work to understand the problem, provide support and share resources that may be helpful. 

With this change to a three-digit number, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration expects calls to more than double within the next year. So the lifeline is in need of more counselors and volunteers to help with their mission. For those interested, visit SAMHSA’s 988 jobs page.  

Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates. 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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