The Arkansas Lifeline Call Center, which will take Arkansans’ calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, opened in Little Rock Tuesday morning.
Prior to the Arkansas Lifeline Call Center’s opening, Arkansans’ calls were directed to out-of-state call centers, officials said. When calls are answered out of state, wait times can increase, Dr. Richard McKeon of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said. McKeon is head of the organization’s suicide prevention branch.
“By taking steps to ensure crisis calls from people in Arkansas are answered in Arkansas, a rapid response is assured,” McKeon said at the call center’s opening.
The Arkansas Department of Health will operate the call center. The center is the first associated with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be operated by a state health department, according to a news release from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Act 811 of the 2017 legislative session mandated the center’s opening.
“We are pleased to offer this important in-state service for Arkansans,” Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Arkansas Department of Health director and state officer, said in a news release. “Callers in crisis will be able to speak to someone here in Arkansas who has a strong understanding of the resources available in the state. This number is available for many reasons – whether a person is contemplating suicide or is having feelings of anxiousness, depression, hopelessness, or they just want to talk.”
Suicide is the leading cause of violent death in the state of Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
“The vision of the [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline] was that there would be a single national suicide prevention number, 800-273-TALK (or 800-273-8255), that could be accessed from anywhere in the United States, with the calls then answered locally through a network of state and locally supported crisis services,” McKeon said.
Over 160 crisis centers are involved in this network, McKeon said. Last year, the national network answered over 2 million calls.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the line by sending TALK to 741741. Online chat is also available at chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.