When someone dials 988, they are transferred to the crisis hotline that is closest to them geographically. In most counties, that is the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters, based in Lawrence, though Wichita residents will be transferred to a line run by the local mental health provider, COMCARE.
If all operators are tied up, the call would then roll over to an out-of-state hotline, though Monica Kurtz, executive director of the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters, said this is prevented at all costs.
“We do pretty strongly believe that Kansans are best served by Kansans,” Kurtz said in an interview earlier this year. “That we have a better idea of what goes on in our state and what resources are available for folks than someone who isn’t here.”
Providers are expecting a significant rise in calls because of the new number.
Operators can connect callers with local resources, such as therapy, a nearby community mental health center or even emergency services, depending on how severe the situation is.
It also can include the deployment of mobile crisis units to help individuals in distress.
Those units can include law enforcement, social workers or EMTs, as needed, with an eye towards better ensuring individuals in crisis get the exact help they need.
Kansas legislators approved $10 million in funding in the state budget to get the hotline up and running and fund some of the services, such as the mobile crisis units.
Lawmakers also passed a separate bill, later signed by Kelly, allowing the Kansas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services to begin certain mental health services, create an advisory council and hire staff to support the hotline.
If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time day or night, or chat online. The Kansas Suicide Prevention Line can be reached at 785-841-2345.
As reported in the Topeka Capital Journal