The FCC is making HISTORY by recently approving a new dedicated three-digit Suicide Prevention Crisis Line: 9-8-8. The FCC is taking public comment through March 16. Please sign the petition on my Home page: KristinaKari.com. This is why it should matter to ALL of us!
Imagine that you are experiencing the most severe physical pain of your life, such as childbirth or passing a kidney stone. If you were in this kind of pain and needed help, would you call 911, a family member, or friend? I doubt many would hesitate contacting any of those aforementioned.
What if one word was changed in that sentence? You are experiencing the worst emotional pain of your life. Whom would you call if you did not have family or friends that you felt you could call? Would you call 911? Now it starts to get a little tricky. Remember, it is mental pain and so with that we must assume that one may not be able to think clearly.
Welcome to the world of someone in suicidal crisis. Let’s not put a butterflies and roses spin on this. When someone is despondent and in the depths of despair there is nothing more horrifying. If you think they are not scared to death, you are wrong.
The dedicated three-digit 988 Suicide Crisis line is historical because it removes stigma and empowers those affected with untreated mental and emotional wellness circumstances.
It will be mandated that everyone have access to 988 within 18 months of enactment. Thankfully, the FCC recognized that not all numbers are created equal. Everyone has access to 911 and the same standard will apply to 988.
The necessary public education around 988 will encourage help-seeking. We know during a mental health emergency, two things that help someone in crisis: time and distance. It is crucial that support be as immediately available as possible. The future hotline number will be more accessible and easier to remember. It will be the 911 for those in emotional crisis.
If you have ever felt suicidal or are a survivor of someone that has taken their life, you know certain things. You understand that nothing makes sense. Why have we been a society that responds as though it should make sense? It does not make sense because the brain is not well.
It is not up for debate whether a suicidal person is in their right mind. If they were, would they want to die? So let's get the elephant out in the open and role play. You are in suicidal crisis, and remember, we have removed the elephant so now we call the elephant what it is: a mental or emotional health situation.
So you’ve got yourself a case of untreated mental wellness, how is your brain feeling? Did you just ask me how my brain is feeling? Because if I am not being treated for something, such as depression, it seems almost funny that someone would expect me to know how my brain is doing. If I am in the abyss of pain, my thoughts may not be clear, linear, nor rational.
Consider this, someone with an untreated mental wellness circumstance might actually not want to die. They want the pain to end. One more thing, unlike popular opinion, someone with an untreated mental wellness situation does not consider hurting themselves as a selfish act. In fact, they think that they are doing their loved ones a favor—they would not have to worry about me. It is difficult for someone in emotional crisis to get outside of their pain and understand that the feelings are temporary, and there is help.
I now return you to your healthy, problem-solving brain. How was that dip in serotonin for you? From my perspective it is harrowing. I realize it is complex to understand. I also understand the challenge in not knowing exactly what to say to someone that you are worried about. I have decided that just because we don’t like to get our space messy, because it is not a sexy subject, is not a good enough excuse to do nothing. If you don't know what to say to someone, that is okay. Tell them exactly that, as you reach out and tell them that you care.
We are entering a new decade, one which demands attention to mental health like never before. When someone is struggling with a mental or emotional health condition they need and deserve compassion and empathy. We must remove judgement and place our attention on overall health. Mental health is as important as physical health. We can no longer claim ignorance to the fact: suicide is preventable. I have always said that it just takes one person to reach out and help save a life. The shorter crisis number could be the difference when someone, feeling despair, has a brief moment of courage to reach out for help.
Kristina Brown a Field Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is a speaker, author, marketing consultant, and mental wellness health advocate. Through her initiatives, Brown identifies and dispels myths and stigmas surrounding mental health by educating, empowering, and creating a culture which views mental and emotional health as important as physical health.