Why I Won’t Recommend 988 (Again) as a Crisis and Suicide Prevention Resource
Of Medium/Vic Welle“Many people might be surprised to learn that I don’t recommend 988, the new ‘mental health 911’ number, as a resource for people in emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts. After all, I spent past years as a peer support worker, using my own lived experience of healing from trauma as a way to connect with and support people struggling with emotional distress. people who are contemplating suicide, recovering from traumatic events and going through an emotional crisis Why would I not are you excited to promote a new resource for people to access mental health support?
For those unfamiliar, 988 replaces the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and also aims to divert 911 crisis calls so that, in theory, a person in emotional crisis can receive the support they need from agents of mental health trained. It is, in theory, a good and noble idea. And, as currently managed and implemented, 988 is not a resource that I can endorse. How can I know? I spent many hours over the past two years attending 988 working group meetings, reading and learning what I could about the implementation plans. What I learned left me very concerned about the potential for emotional and physical harm to the most vulnerable and historically marginalized. This includes Black, Indigenous and People of Color, the LGBTQIA+ community, people healing from traumatic police interactions, and people at risk of forced psychiatric interventions.
Simply put, 988 is not trauma informed. A 2014 document published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach”, details the implementation of a trauma-informed program and notes that ” A trauma-informed program, organization, or system…responds by fully integrating trauma knowledge into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.
The current deployment of 988 repeats the same harmful protocols and practices of the Lifeline it replaces, and fails to take the necessary steps to actively resist traumatization and re-traumatization. Below are the principles of a trauma-informed approach, as outlined in the SAMHSA document, and the ways 988 is not yet able to measure itself.
Back to Around the Web