COLORADO, USA — It's been almost a week since 988, the new national suicide and crisis hotline number, started operating.
While Colorado has not seen a dramatic increase in calls, they expect to see an increase in the next year because of the ease of the number.
However, not everyone is convinced of its safety and a scroll through social media might get people to an infographic warning that "988 is not friendly."
“I can speak very specifically about what happens if you have a Colorado area code and call 988," said Bev Marquez, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, which is the provider of Colorado Crisis Services and the 988 National Suicide Hotline.
She says these worries, specifically a concern of police involvement, will not be found in Colorado.
"We answer 380,000 calls a year," said Marquez. "Less than 1% of those calls result in us getting law enforcement involved for a welfare check. And if that happens a caller will absolutely be involved in that conversation."
The people on the other end of the line are the same ones who have always answered the national suicide hotline in Colorado, and Marquez said they only involve police if the caller has an active plan to harm themselves or someone else.
Marquez added in Colorado, crisis counselors do not have the authority to initiate an involuntary hold.
"We will ask you demographic information and you do not have to provide it," she said. "This can be an anonymous call and for any call where we get information, it is confidential."
Another concern from social media posts is that the crisis counselors can ge-locate callers.
"We do not have ways of tracing where anybody is," Marquez assured.
Because 988 will only route people to Colorado providers if they have a Colorado area code, people still have the option of calling the Colorado Crisis Services line at 1-844-493-8255.
That number gives people the option of connecting to either the hotline or what's known as a "warmline."
Marquez said the hotline through 988 or Colorado Crisis Services provides more of a clinical response with someone who has a degree and formal training in mental health and suicide prevention, while the warmline is for someone not actively in crisis.
"When you talk with a peer specialist it's a different path to being well," said Marquez. "The individual that takes the call has lived experience."
Ultimately, there's no wrong number to call.
Marquez encourages anyone with questions about the lines to call them, and get to know how they work.
"I can confidently tell you as the leader of this organization that has provided Colorado crisis services and 988 is that the concerns that individuals have will not be the experience if you call here," she said.
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