EDITORIAL: #BeThe1To learn more about 988, Suicide Prevention Month

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Thursday marked the beginning of September as Suicide Prevention Month.

The month is an annual effort of The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and mental health organizations to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention throughout the world.

In recent years, we've seen the amount of awareness towards and resources for mental healthcare increase drastically. On the heels of one of the most universally testing years, Congress rolled out a vital resource in 988 in 2020.

988 operates as a three-digit code that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to crisis counselors who are trained to help anyone experiencing suicidal, substance use or a mental health crises.

Its confidentiality and ease of access provided a needed update to the suicide hotline. It increased the ways in which a user can reach the hotline and bolstered the response of it by focusing on real, trained human beings on the other end. By offering the text option, it also allows for a more discrete resource for teens who may be experiencing a crisis.

Connecting individuals in need with additional resources is important, especially when it leads them to others who are compassionate, understanding and trained to help.

Whether it be someone on the verge of attempting suicide or someone who needs an anonymous yet understanding voice to help them through a situation, 988 has brought a much-needed improvement to an already vital tool of mental healthcare.

One of the more unique aspects of 988 is its mission around Suicide Prevention Month and World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10) in its #BeThe1To campaign. This provides guidelines for people to talk to loved ones, friends or strangers who may be in need of a friendly voice. It shows how people can Be The 1 To ask questions, be there, keep them safe, help them stay connected and follow up. These simple yet important tips provide the groundwork for every-day civilians to be another line of defense in the fight towards mental health awareness.

Suicide Prevention Month and 988 are just one of many important strides made towards suicide prevention and mental health awareness. But they're ways that allow anyone to become more knowledgable of what to do in a crisis and how to be understanding to those in tough situations.

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