New dialing area code rule helps to save lives

Stuart Pate, Staff Writer

In preparation for the reformation of the national suicide prevention hotline, anyone with a 608-area code now must dial the full 10 digits of the phone number.
If contemplating suicide, talking about it can serve as a big relief. The current national suicide prevention hotline number is 1-800-273-8255; starting July 16, 2022 a new three digit 988 which will go into effect.
“Occasionally a student is at higher risk, and we help them make a plan to help them stay safe with building in support and counseling and emergency plans etc. where this new 988 effort could be very helpful,” says John Boyne, one of the counselors at Madison College.
This could come as special interest to college students. A study, conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, surveyed college students about mental health issues. The study found that one-fifth of all students surveyed had thought about suicide, with nine percent reporting having attempted suicide and nearly 20 percent reporting self-injury in their lifetime.
COVID-19 is adding additional stressors. Director of Emergency Services at Journey Mental Health Hannah Flanagen says many college students are experiencing a sense of loss with less social engagement along with learning to become independent, substance abuse, dating, parenting, politics, time management etc.” Flanagan notes, “most traditional college age students fall into an age range that is the same age range in which symptoms of serious and persistent mental health challenges emerge.”
Madison College students experiencing mental health challenges are encouraged to take advantage of free counseling services offered by the college. Six fully licensed and experienced counselors are available for students. Making an appointment can be done through the Navigation app.
The 988-hotline change is a result of The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which was a bipartisan bill cosponsored by 34 senators, including Tammy Baldwin, and was signed into law on Oct. 17, 2020.
Vibrant Emotional Health, who manages the current national suicide hotline has been awarded stewardship over the future 988 hotline.
“Students can improve their mental strength and resilience just like we can improve our physical strength. Our webpage shares ideas about how to begin to do this as well as academic strengthening steps,” Boyne says.