KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — According to state data, there were 2,260 calls to the 988 suicide prevention lifeline between July and Nov. 2022 in Knox County. The phone number is a quick way to access suicide prevention resources and connect with people who want to help others in crisis.
State data also showed 21,000 calls were made to 988 in the last three months of 2022 — an increase of around 500 calls per month compared to the ten-digit lifeline number. It also showed almost 10,000 text messages to 988 and chats with the lifeline online.
"When people are seeking mental health support, especially when they're in crisis, they need the right level of support immediately," said Lindsey Stone, the senior director of children and youth mental health programming at the McNabb Center.
Recently, the East Tennessee Children's Hospital also opened a Crisis Stabilization Unit. With that unit, the McNabb Center can effectively triage patients who may be showing signs of experiencing a mental health crisis.
"Having Tennessee's first children's Crisis Stabilization Unit has been the level of care that we know that we've needed for a long time," said Stone. "People are accessing that level of care on a regular basis. We knew that people were showing up to emergency departments because they felt like that was their only option for a long time."
She also said that having a simple phone number to call for mental health help has helped people in crisis.
"Having an easy access point that people can utilize when they're in crisis, that then gets them connected to somebody that can help navigate what they need at that moment. Because in crisis, it's the same in mental health and other emergency medical care. A lot of times, you need somebody to help you navigate that," said Stone.
Mental health resources can also be found here. This list of resources can help anyone find people who want to talk, and who want to help others.