Nearly 100 counselors to be on call in Iowa City as CommUnity Crisis Services launches 988 suicide prevention line

Nearly 100 counselors to be on call in Iowa City as CommUnity Crisis Services launches 988...
Nearly 100 counselors to be on call in Iowa City as CommUnity Crisis Services launches 988 suicide prevention line
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - A new phone number launches this week that is meant to be an emergency line for behavioral health crises.

Starting Saturday, when people who are having suicidal thoughts, or a mental health crisis can dial or text 988 they will be connected with someone in, or close to their county to get the help they need.

It’s an existing service, but soon Eastern Iowa centers, like CommUnity Crisis Services in Iowa City, will be taking calls specifically from those in the area.

“The goal is that 90% of the time they are going to receive a counselor that is Iowa-based that extremely familiar in the crisis continuum of services in Iowa, knows local resources,” said CEO, Sarah Nelson.

She says each counselor at their center is trained on suicide intervention and prevention.

“80% of calls, chats, and texts are able to be de-escalated through that intervention, which is wonderful,” said Nelson. “The other 20% might receive a higher level of intervention like a mobile crisis response or a referral to an access center.”

The Iowa City Police Department is in full support of this new adaptation to crisis intervention throughout Johnson County.

Public Safety Information Officer, Lee Hermiston says another positive that comes with this is that it could divert 911 calls.

“Having a dedicated number for mental health crisis is just going to make sure that calls of that nature are being handled by the appropriate folks,” said Hermiston.

The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 is still active for anyone who is struggling. But starting Saturday anyone in need can simply dial 988 instead and be connected to a crisis counselor within miles of them.

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