Joplin’s Ozark Center gearing up for national launch of 988 hotline

Next month, a new national hotline will be available for people who need confidential and emotional support at no cost. KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more.

Debbie Fitzgerald, Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services

According to data from the non-profit Vibrant Health, the suicide rate across the US has increased by 30 percent since 1999.

Due to the sharp rise in self-harm and to decrease the number of calls to 911, a new national suicide hotline will be launched next month. Freeman Health System’s Ozark Center is one of 200 call centers nationwide.

Debbie Fitzgerald, Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services, spoke Tuesday about the new service. Debbie Cut 1 “Any individual, in any state, in the United States can pick up their cell phone and dial 988, or they could text or chat to 988. We’re going to provide the hotline, the call service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The 988 hotlines will be made up of a network of locally owned and operated call centers. The hotline was launched in 2005, receiving 46,000 calls the first year. In 2020, the number of calls to 988 had grown to 2.4 million.

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