‘We need more volunteers’: Mental health advocates discuss 6-month anniversary of 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Advocates said their mission to make crisis support more accessible is working.

San Antonio – This weekend marks six months since the launch of the new 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The goal is to get immediate help to people in crisis.

“We are always telling people suicide is preventable but… it’s a hard struggle,” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Event Manager Carmen Martinez said.

She is raising awareness of suicide prevention along with her colleague Julia Hewitt. Hewitt is the South Texas Chapter for AFSP and she said since the creation of 988, crisis support calls are increasing.

“I believe just in six short months, the usage actually doubled the resource versus the entire year before,” Hewitt explained.

Hewitt said part of the reason more hotline calls are coming in could be due to an annual increase of holiday grief and seasonal depression.

“The last couple of years, relationships and social connections have probably eroded a little bit. There’s a little bit more isolation, possibly that individuals find themselves in,” Hewitt said.

The AFSP South Texas chapter is responsible for 42 counties. While they’re excited their mission to make crisis support more accessible is working, they are asking people to volunteer, donate and support their efforts.

“Once the individual sort of exits that ‘hot’ moment, they are okay. They typically don’t go on to try again,” she said.

AFSP leaders are currently recruiting passionate civilian volunteers, physicians and licensed counseling professionals.

If you are interested in signing up to volunteer or donate, click here. For more information, contact AFSP South Texas Chapter Events Manager Carmen Martinez at cmartinez@afsp.org.

About the Authors

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

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