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How suicide and crisis hotline 988 is helping communities one year after its launch

It especially helps service mental health needs to rural areas, like Laurens County.

DUBLIN, Ga. — Mental health is already hard enough. Finding the number to call for help shouldn't be.

That's why a year ago, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline changed its 1-800 number to a new one: 988. 

Community Service Board of Middle Georgia, an outpatient mental health clinic, has promoted it to their community since it launched.

"988 is especially advertised for those rural areas," Community Relations Coordinator Erica Stokes said. 

The outpatient clinic is one of their five clinics that service 16 counties. They also have a stabilization unit, Quentin Price, that services anyone who is actively going through a mental health crisis.

But for how stretched thin they are across those counties, sometimes Quentin Price isn't enough.

"There are only a limited amount of beds. You know there is a chance that somebody may get, I wouldn’t say turned away, but you know, it is first come first serve," Stokes said. 

She said 988 still needs more promotion in the area. 

"I feel that is very important to extend those resources and the more that we can get them out, the more educated people can be," Stokes said.

She's still happy to see more people knowing what it is a year later because it helps her team to get help to people who need additional support. 

"They mainly go into crisis because they’re not exactly sure where to turn to. And in the event that there is a crisis, knowing that there's recourse and even materials, marketing materials, is very important," she said. 

988 is available to call or text 24/7 and is free of charge to use. 

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