A change in the choice of certain area codes in Kansas will save lives, say mental health professionals

MISSION, Kans. (WDAF) – This week changed how you can reach people with certain area codes in Kansas.

It is in an effort to prevent suicides across the state and across the nation. Mental health experts believe it will save lives.

Its purpose is to prevent people from accidentally dialing a future 3-digit speed dial for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The change took effect on Sunday.

People with area codes 785 and 620 must dial 10 digits to complete local calls. Choosing three additional numbers is a big step towards zero suicides.

“People are using more and more crisis lines,” says Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ Vice Pres. for external programming, said Monica Kurz.

The speed dial “988” has not yet been set up. It will go live on July 16, 2022. Since 2016, calls in Kansas have increased 59%, according to Kurz.

“It tells me that this is the kind of help people want,” Kurz said. “We just take out this“ guesswork ”. Easy to remember three digits. So we believe this will be a very good thing for people across the state. “

Just like 1-800-273-TALK now, choosing “988” will eventually lead people here to one of four crisis call centers in Kansas.

Johnson County is unique in that the center is staffed with all licensed health professionals who will wait on the other line.

National Lifeline patches calls to the center closest to your area code.

Tim DeWeese, director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, said this is important in giving people the help they need.

“You’re going to speak to a Johnson County psychiatrist who knows the community’s resources. That way, they’ll be able to connect people with the care they need, ”DeWeese said.

Areas 913 and 316 are not affected by this rule. The telephone companies there never used 988 for local area codes.

“If you can dial the 988, you can access it just like 911, people can access it regardless of your age, and that will help save lives,” DeWeese said.

There is a house law that will be discussed in this January legislature.

If the bill passes, Kansans would pay an extra $ 0.50 for each phone line – that is, if you have a family of four with four phones, that would be an extra dollar a year.

Then that money is used to run the 988’s lifeline.

If you are thinking of harming or killing yourself please call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

If you are having problems and need to speak to someone who understands you, call 1-866-WARM-EAR or 913-281-2251.

For more information or a referral, please call Mental Health of America at 913-281-2221.

Help is available regardless of your financial situation. Please seek help if you or someone you know is suffering.

If you have thoughts of suicide, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911, or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

About Ellen Lewandowski

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