Montana Primed to Launch 988 Lifeline
Helena, MT (KEYZ) Asking for help in spreading the word and prayers for all Montanans who are struggling, Governor Greg Gianforte Tuesday declared the state ready to launch the Montana 988 Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.
“As we all know, Montana faces a tragic epidemic of suicide, devastating far too many families and communities,” said Gianforte through a release from the governor's office. “Thanks to heroic Montanans answering the call to serve others in crisis, this new 988 Lifeline number will help save lives. To any Montanan who might be struggling, know that you are not alone, and you can find folks ready to help by dialing 988.”
The new, easy-to-remember 988 number is a giant step forward in suicide prevention in Montana and in connecting those struggling with a mental health crisis to those who can help.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI - MT, about 163,000 Montanans have a mental health condition, and more than 573,000 Montanans live in an area where there is a shortage of mental health professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC - MT, reports that Montana is third in the nation in per capita suicides, and suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the Treasure State.
Montana 988 is part of the National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline network of over 200 local, independent crisis centers equipped to help people in mental health related distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the nation. While serving in Congress, then-Representative Gianforte, introduced the bill to designate an easier-to-remember number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
According to the governor's release, calls made to 988 in Montana are routed to one of three independent crisis call centers: Voices of Hope in Great Falls, The Help Center in Bozeman, and the Western Montana Mental Health Lifeline Call Center in Missoula. Health officials standing alongside the governor Tuesday stressed that qualified Montanans will be helping their neighbors in distress.
“Together, these crisis call centers provide coverage to every county in Montana,” said Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Adam Meier. “It’s important for people to know that when they call 988, more than 90% of the time, they will be connected to a trained mental health and crisis counselor who works in one of the Montana call centers.”
The Montana 988 Lifeline will launch, officially, on Saturday, July 16, 2022. Veterans who dial 988 will be given a prompt to dial “1” to be routed to the Veteran Crisis Line.