Local behavioral and mental health center receives grant to implement new national suicide hotline number

Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services Debbie Fitzgerald

In October of last year, then-President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill creating a new universal, nationwide number for National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the US. The number, 988, won’t go into effect until July of next year. Still, work has already started at Ozark Center in Joplin, which received a $12,500 grant to implement the 988 system in Jasper, Newton, Barry, and McDonald Counties. Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services Debbie Fitzgerald says the hotline offers preventive behavioral and mental health issues. “We provide callers with information on basic behavioral health disorders. What is depression? Can you tell if you have it? What is a mood disorder? When should a man or a woman or a youth be concerned about their substance use?” There are currently 180 crisis centers linked to the Lifeline toll-free number that answer the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone calls; that number is 800.273.TALK or visit suicide prevention lifeline dot org for more information.

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