Crisis line 9-8-8 goes live statewide on July 16

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Información en español:

Idahoans looking for help for themselves or others experiencing a mental health crisis will soon have another emergency response option.

The 988 crisis line goes live statewide and across the nation on July 16, said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen at a Wednesday meeting of the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen gives a presentation to the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs on July 6. Melissa Davlin/Idaho Reports

Much like you would call 911 for emergency services, “you would call (988) either for suicide prevention or for any other behavioral health crisis,” Jeppesen told the council. That includes those living on Idaho’s tribal reservations.

Idahoans can also text 988 for help after the go-live date.

In many cases, the 988 crisis line will be able to connect residents with local mental health services, though those services won’t immediately be available everywhere in Idaho, Jeppesen said. In those instances, representatives from the statewide Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline can help callers.

The current National Suicide Prevention Hotline number, 1-800-273-8255, will remain operational even after 988 goes live, as will the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can also connect Spanish speaking callers with help in Spanish at 1-888-628-9454, and offers tele-interpreter services for other languages as well. The hotline will continue to offer those services through 988.

The 988 crisis line is the result of a 2020 bipartisan bill signed into law by former President Donald Trump. In 2021, the Idaho Legislature passed a concurrent resolution recognizing the new hotline.

According to IDHW, suicide was the 9th leading cause of death for Idahoans in 2020; For some demographics and age groups, it’s much higher. That year, 421 Idahoans died by suicide. Idaho’s suicide rate was 1.4 times higher than the rest of the nation that year.

“This is a big step forward in our crisis response system in our state,” Jeppesen said.

More information on 988:

<strong>Melissa Davlin</strong> | Host, Lead Producer
Melissa Davlin | Host, Lead Producer

Melissa Davlin is the lead producer and host of Idaho Reports. She has covered the Idaho Legislature since 2012. She also produces for Outdoor Idaho and Idaho Public Television. She has won multiple awards for her work, including a regional Emmy for her documentary on Chinese immigration in Idaho, Idaho Press Club broadcast reporter of the year for 2015 and 2019, the Idaho Press Club First Amendment Award, and the 2019 Boise State University Enhancing Public Discourse award. She lives in Boise with her husband and two children. 

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