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Help is always available at 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

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Posted: Apr 12, 2024| Categories: Uncategorized

For the fifth consecutive year, VTDigger is excited to work with Vermont Care Partners to promote the much-needed services of its sixteen respective member agencies which, includes NCSS. They also understand how important it is for our elected officials to know how to support the needs of Vermonters.  

This thirteen-week series is a collaboration produced by members of the Vermont Care Partners statewide network of sixteen non-profit, community-based agencies providing mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disability support.

Below is the thirteenth installment of the series from Northwestern Counseling & Support Services highlighting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and our organization being the first call center in the state of Vermont to answer 802-area code calls.

Help is always available at 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Access call, text, and chat 24 hours a day / 7 days a week

Excerpts from article:

Imagine a feeling so dark that hopelessness sets in, and you feel the only solution is to end your life. Or you, a family member, or friend are struggling with a mental health or substance use concern and don’t know where to turn for guidance. Help is only three digits away. 988 was designed to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health related needs. With the launch of the 3-digit 988 number on July 16, 2022, the name also changed from the National Suicide Prevention LIFELINE to the 988 SUICIDE & CRISIS LIFELINE.

Positioning Vermont Years Prior to 988 Launch

During August 2019, Northwestern Counseling & Support Services (NCSS) began fielding calls as Vermont’s first National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Call Center. In June 2021, NCSS was joined by Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) which began answering calls resulting in 24/7 call response for everyone with an 802-area code. Plus, in the event of any overflow calls they’re answered by Headrest in New Hampshire.

Launch of 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis, substance use, or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the pandemic only made a bad situation worse when it comes to mental health and wellness.

There are urgent realities driving the need for crisis service transformation in Vermont and across the country.

The transition to 988 has been an important step forward and offers an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and transform crisis care. Tony Stevens, NCSS Emergency Services Program Manager, notes, “988 doesn’t replace the great work already being done by Designated Agency crisis teams but provides another layer of safety.”


For callers that display suicidal ideation, Sarah Kenny, NCSS 988 / Lifeline Team Leader, states, “100% of all callers that confirm suicidal ideation, either current or in the last 24 hours will be asked to consent for a follow up call. When a caller consents to a follow up, the lifeline center will reach out to the caller within 24-72 hours.”  Read more… 

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