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988 to launch July 16 in South Dakota





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 14, 2022

DSS MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Long, 605.773.3165, dssmedia@state.sd.us

HELPLINE CENTER MEDIA CONTACT: Wendy Dooley, 605.274.1417, marketing@helplinecenter.org

 

988 to launch July 16 in South Dakota

 

PIERRE – A new three-digit dialing code, 988, will launch on Saturday in South Dakota connecting those experiencing mental health distress to compassionate, accessible care and support.

 

“Whether it is thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said South Dakota Department of Social Services Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.”

 

When South Dakotans call, text or chat 988, they’ll be quickly connected to trained crisis counselors who will listen to concerns, provide support and connect to additional resources as needed.

 

“There are urgent realities driving the need for crisis service transformation across our country,” said Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams.

 

In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1.800.273.8255) network. The caring and professionally trained staff of the Helpline Center have been answering the Lifeline since 2005.

 

In South Dakota, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, but is the leading cause among ages 10-19. Additionally, drug related deaths in South Dakota have increased from 56 in 2011 to 84 in 2020.

 

“The Helpline Center, in collaboration with the South Dakota Department of Social Services, remains steadfast in our work to provide help and hope to individuals when its needed most,” Kittams said. “Please join us in sharing this important information about 988 and together we can continue to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.”