By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
29 October 2012
I am totally amazed that voters are going to decide as to whether a form of suicide might be validated. Question Two on the Massachusetts ballot asks voters to decide whether the government should permit certain suicides, if a medical doctor assists the patient.
Having served as the liaison between NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and MCSP (Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention) was an honor. At the time I was President of a NAMI affiliate and Steering Committee member of MCSP. Every year we would lobby the legislature for funds to educate people about suicide and worked to prevent suicide. We conducted many workshops and conferences to educate, bring hope, and empower people to live.
There have been many times that I personally ministered to people who felt desperate and went on to live fruitful and blessed lives. There have been several terminally ill patients who I have been blessed to work with who knew their time on earth was drawing to a close and endured the pain as they lived their lasts days to the fullest. There is a difference between a person who has been told they have a certain time to remain among us and the rest of us and that is they have an end date and try to make every moment count. The rest of us are making long term plans as we have no idea when our time will come. We are all only one heartbeat away from eternity.
Tahni Morell and her daughter Julia talk about the valuable time they spent with a husband and father despite a terminal prognosis in a Youtube video at
Most people who are feeling depressed or desperate enough to consider suicide give clues about their feelings. You can be the first step towards help for someone you care about by learning to recognize these clues to suicide risk.
Verbal Signs: “I want to kill myself.” “I don’t want to be here anymore.” “No one understands me.” “I can’t take it anymore.” “Things will never get better.” “I’m tired of being a burden to my friends and family.” “No one would miss me if I were gone.”
Acting Differently Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period; Changes in eating or sleeping habits; Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol; Loss of concentration; Withdrawing from friends and family; Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed. Not planning for the future. Hurting oneself on purpose; Thinking and talking about death a lot; Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure.
Situations: Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job; Having money problems; Having questions sexual identity issues; Previous suicide attempts; Recent death of a loved one; Problems in an important relationship.; Problems at work or school; Social isolation.
Then there are several people who were told they had a few months to live….five, ten, fifteen or more years ago.
There have been people who discovered on the day of their surgery to remove a tumor that the tumor was no longer there.
Who knows the actual day they will die – only God.
The inability for doctors to accurately predict end of life is one reason to oppose Question 2 on this year’s Massachusetts ballot.
I know there are certain questions about the wording of the ballot question that would be disputed in the courts forever. I have a better idea why don’t we just say NO on Question 2 and avoid the Court battles. Some lawyers who be very happy to see Question 2 pass because they will earn a lot of fees.
The Supreme Court of the United States will not allow a state to execute a person who is incompetent. Being incompetent roughly means that the person suffers from a medical condition of a mental illness severely enough that he can not assist their Attorney in their defense. Often suicide is an action attempted by people who see no way out and suffer from a medical condition of a mental illness. Many people who do not complete suicide go on to live a healthy life and help others.
Since only God knows when our time on earth is over why don’t we just let God be God and vote NO on Question 2 November 6th.
Live is precious. Let’s spread a message of hope and Vote NO on Question 2.
Samaritians Suicide Prevention can be found at: http://samaritanshope.org/index.php
Helplines: Toll Free 877-870-4673, Samariteens 800-252-8336 and their 24 Hour Help Lines 617-247-0220 and 508-875-4500
The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention can be found https://masspreventssuicide.org/
[Question #2 received more yes than no votes]
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Has A New Name & Number : 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
July 28, 2022
The most renowned suicide prevention hotline service in the US has change its name and number in an effort to revamp the service and make it easier for callers to access support. Here’s a look at the new 988 number, what the service is about and who can use it.
The New Name & Number For Suicide Prevention
It was formerly well-known as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and used to be reached on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
It is now reachable by calling 988. It also has a new, shorter name: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
The old 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will apparently continue being active for the foreseeable future for those unaware of the number change.
What Is The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline?
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) is a US-based support service offering a toll-free hotline for those in emotional distress or feeling suicidal. The service has a national network of more than 180 crisis centres in 50 states staffed by professionals so as to provide 24/7 support to their callers and users. The hotline is open to those needing support themselves, as well as for friends and loved ones calling out of concern for someone else. The service is free and confidential.
It should be noted that you, or the person you are calling because of, do not need to be suicidal to use the service. As per the 988 website : “People do not have to be suicidal to call – reasons to call include: substance abuse, economic worries, relationships, sexual identity, illness, getting over abuse, depression mental and physical illness, and loneliness.”
When someone dials the new 988 number, they’ll be routed straight to their nearest crisis centre to speak with a call handler. This handler will be able to listen, offer initial counselling and support, and be able to refer to other local mental health services if required.
The service was first initiated on January 1st 2005, launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health. Vibrant Emotional Health is the grant’s administrator and works in conjunction with several additional partners, including the likes of the National Council For Behavioural Health, Living Works Inc, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.
The coordinated efforts of these partnerships aim to collaborate to better fund and implement resources for mental health support and suicide prevention. The Lifeline has taken more than 20 million calls since its inception.
In addition to the lifeline itself, more than 66% of their 180+ crisis centres also provide mental health and suicide prevention training within their respective communities.
How To Access The 988 Service
You can contact the 988 Lifeline service in a few ways, including :
- Call the freephone 988 number for a telephone chat
- Use the online chat function for real-time text talking on their website
- Text 988
- For the deaf or hard of hearing, use preferred relay service or dial 711 followed by 988
The Need For Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Hotlines
As most people who have tried to access a doctor or get a mental health referral will know, the support system for such issues can be appalling at the best of times.
A hotline is not a long-term solution but a potentially vital bandage when one is needed in order to get that person on to the help they need.
If someone finds themselves near the edge and struggling, speaking with a professional on the phone or even by text can simply connect you to another human being, anchor you when the waters get choppy. The service can also provide some support for those worried about a friend, colleague, partner or family member, as well as advise on how to help that loved one, because it’s not easy feeling helpless when someone you care about is struggling.
In 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, with almost 46,000 suicides recorded.
988 notes that for every single individual who dies by suicide, there are another 316 people that seriously contemplate, but do not go through with, killing themselves.
The idea of hotlines like this is to connect the caller to a counsellor, listener or other professional to get them instant support when they may need it the most. 988 transfers users to a trained counsellor and the hope is to de-escalate the situation, signpost or refer to local services if required, and leave the caller feeling a little better and safer. This is not a long term support solution and is no replacement for counselling or other mental health services; those who are struggling or feeling suicidal should seek the appropriate professional support. A hotline may just bridge the gap and be a safety net when immediate intervention is needed.
Why Did The Name & Number Change?
Shortening the number to dial to a three digit number should make it quicker and easier for those in need to call. The slightly shortened name also modernises the service and should it easier to recall, thus easier to promote.
At pivotal moments when someone needs support – when in crisis, scared, confused or suicidal – having to go online to search for a helpline number is not something everyone will be able or wiling to do. The simple 988 will hopefully be more memorable, and thus encourage more use of the hotline.
The service hopes that more chats, calls and texts will arise from this change, helping to progress the access to mental health support in this era of connectivity, busy-ness and technology. According to Hannah Wesolowski, a chief advocacy officer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 988 is a turning point for reimagining mental health care: “We’re really looking at a fundamental tide shift in how we respond to people in mental health crisis.”
The 988 Name & Number Aren’t The Only Things To Change
As per the above suggestion that 988 signals a transformation in care for mental health, it’s not just the name and number for this service that have changed. Additional funding has been granted and new policy changes have been implemented.
There are a few hopes for this revised service and its use. For instance:
- Greater awareness of the hotline and the ways in which individuals can access 988 depending on their needs and preferences
- A focus on high quality and tailoring to the individual’s needs, while maintaining best practice guidelines
- Ensuring all individuals contacting 988 are supported by connecting them to local community resources and following up as appropriate
In essence, they’re hoping to make this a more robust, well-known, supportive and accessible service.
Who Can Use The 988 Lifeline?
The 988 services is for those in the United States.
Veterans in the US can also call this number; by stating their status as a US military vet, they’ll be redirected to a dedicated veterans hotline.
Sadly, despite Canada reportedly having the third highest suicide rate in the ‘industrialised world’, there’s no dedicated national hotline available. Calls for such a hotline, which has supposedly been under development for a few years, have grown louder in the wake of the changes to the US service. Canada hopes to get its own support service and 3-digit crisis number.
For other countries, a Google search should be able to bring up mental health services and crisis hotline numbers in your area.
In the UK, there are a few mental health charities offering immediate support on the phone. One is Suicide Prevention UK (SP-UK) : 0800 689 5652. Another is Samaritans : 116 123
If you need support or want to find out more, you can visit the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline website here.