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New suicide & crises lifeline 988 is serving Riverside County

People experiencing mental health related distress can now dial 988 for assistance and resources. Veterans can also dial 988 and press 1 to reach the Veteran Crisis Line.

The new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline connects callers to the existing suicide prevention lifeline, and is hoping to provide additional resources.

We were able to speak with Jennifer Carson, board member with the American Association of Suicidology and Supervisor for the Inland Southern California Crisis Helpline.

Carson shares what crisis care could look like throughout Riverside County in the coming years, "The goal is for anyone who is having suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, that they have three things: they have somewhere to call, they have somewhere to go and they have someone to come to them."

Here in California, people can call or text 988 to connect with one of the 14 call centers throughout the state.

Carson says that if someone from Riverside County calls 988 they will be connected to a call center in either Los Angeles or San Diego because they're currently the two centers in Southern California.

Meanwhile the Inland Southern California Crisis Helpline is one of the oldest Suicide Hotlines on the West Coast and has been serving the Coachella Valley for 54 years.

Carson tells me the call center is hoping to join the network of California's National Suicide prevention lifeline call centers.

This will allow callers in Riverside County to dial 988 and be connected to local counselors and resources. Carson says additional funding would make this possible.

"We really need the community to support funding AB 988, which will put a very tiny surcharge on cell phones to fund 988 in the same way that 911 is funded. We all want someone to reach a trained crisis counselor right away when they call," says Carson.

Carson tells me the Riverside University Health System currently has a mobile crisis unit and is looking to expand this service within the next year.

"If a crisis mobile team were to come out to say your family in Coachella, for someone in your family, that’s what it would look like, it would be a clinical therapist, social worker, or peer support specialist," adds Carson.

The overall goal of 988 is to offer a range of services in the coming years.

You learn more about the Inland Southern California Crisis Helpline here. They offer 24/7 service in the Coachella Valley by connecting callers to counselors and pointing clients to local resources.

You can also call 951-686-HELP (4357)

MORE: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and mental health professionals react to new 988 Lifeline

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.
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