A new National Suicide Prevention telephone number will go into effect in July of 2022. A local hospital system has received a grant to implement the system in Four counties in Southwest Missouri.

Ozark Center, a division of Freeman Health Systems in Joplin, has received a $12,500 grant from the Missouri department of mental health to implement the new system in Jasper, Newton, McDonald, and Barry counties. Ozark Center will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience, and others to create a 988 implementation plan and support Lifeline’s operational, clinic, and performance standards that allow access to care. According to Debbie Fitzgerald, Director of Ozark Center, Crisis Services, the center affiliated with the National Suicide Lifeline last fall, in addition to operating their existing local hotline that receives as many as 12,000 calls a year. “We take anywhere from 60 calls to 150 from the national lifeline, and our local call number can range from anywhere from 800 to 1,000 a month.” There are currently 180 crisis centers linked to the Lifeline toll-free number nationwide that answer the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you need someone to talk to about mental and behavioral health needs, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 24/7, at 800.273.TALK.