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9-8-8 mental health emergency line launches in Kern County

Posted: 6:00 PM, Jul 18, 2022
Updated: 2022-07-18 21:26:17-04

(KERO) — A new three-digit number that can help save lives was implemented over the weekend with Kern Behavioral Health speaking out Monday on the benefits of 9-8-8 and how it help those struggling with mental health emergencies.

It is something officials say has been much-needed to address growing mental health needs across the country.

The number 9-8-8 connects people to the existing National Suicide Lifeline, which used to be a 1-800 number.

People can use 9-8-8 if they are having suicidal thoughts, or any other kind of emotional distress or others can dial it if they are worried about a loved one who may need support.

"There are urgent realities driving our need for crisis services, for crisis service transformation, across our country. In 2020 alone, U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes. For people between the ages 10 and 14, and 25 and 34 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death," explained Stacy Kuwahara, the director of Kern Behavioral Health.

The Kern County Lifeline is also still open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they can be reached at 1-800-991-5272.

Many Americans, indeed, suffer through mental health crises every year. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says 1-in-5 adults experience some form of mental illness each year and 1-in-20 of them will experience a serious form of mental illness.

In addition, 1-in-6 U.S. kids ages 6 through 17 will experience a mental health disorder. And about half of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24.