Reflection: My Experience with 988

Warning: This article includes references to suicide that may be upsetting to some readers. If you or one of your loved ones are experiencing a mental health emergency or crisis, the following resources are available to support you.

By Stephanie Roth

One day recently, I was struggling with strong thoughts of suicide. At first, I couldn’t think of what to do. I thought about going to the hospital; however, there was a part of me that didn’t want to die, so I told myself that I should at least try something to hopefully feel differently. I had heard about the 988 number, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Being in the crisis state that I was in, I knew I needed to do something, so I decided to text 988. 

They can be contacted by calling or texting. Before someone came on to speak with me, I was asked if I was having thoughts of suicide in the past 2 months, in the last 24 hours, or not at all. I was then asked to rate how ‘upset’ I was: whether it be not at all, moderately, or extremely upset. A counselor then came on the line. The person introduced herself and asked how she could help me. I explained that I was struggling and having thoughts of suicide. She asked if I was safe now or had anything to harm myself with at the moment, and I told her I didn’t have anything near me while we were talking. She then asked what was going on and I explained the things I had been stressed out about lately. The person I was speaking with was very kind and she validated my feelings. She kept thanking me for being so open with her. We talked about coping mechanisms. She then told me about different free supports that I could utilize. She first told me about the Mobile Crisis Team. She said: “The Mobile Crisis Team provides integrated, short-term crisis response, stabilization and intervention for those experiencing a mental health or chemical dependency crisis. The Team can come to your house, a restaurant, your car, and its services are confidential, non-judgmental and respectful.” After talking to her for a while about my stressors and determining that I was in no immediate danger, we both agreed that the Mobile Crisis Unit Team was not something I needed at this time, but she told me that it was always an option for me.  

She continued to listen and validate me. We talked about my supports and I spoke about a vacation I was going on with my husband. I told her that I was feeling a little worried about going because of my mental health at this time. After talking with her, I was feeling more comfortable, and actually was looking forward to going. We made a safety plan and she gave me a bunch of free support groups/other resources. She asked if I wanted to continue talking, and I told her that I was feeling much better. I had the opportunity to talk with someone about what was bothering me, receive validation, and was given resources. After speaking with her, I felt like I had other options besides suicide. I realized that I had a lot of reasons to live, and I didn’t feel so alone. I know that everyone’s experiences are different. However, from my experience, I would highly recommend calling or texting 988 when in crisis. When having a physical emergency, it makes sense that people would call 911, but when having an emotional crisis, 988 is the place to contact. I know that contacting 988 can feel scary. Asking for help is scary in general, though for the chance that we can feel a little better, get resources, and get pointed in the right direction, it is the way to go in my opinion. Please remember that there are always other options besides suicide. I’ve come to realize that neither good nor bad lasts forever. In my experience, when I feel at my very worst, it never lasts. Things do get better: even during my worst of times, they do.

Stephanie is 39 years old and has been married to her loving and supportive husband for 9 years this coming August. She loves helping others. If telling her personal experiences helps even one person, it is worth it for her to share. Stephanie is currently in the process of writing a self-help book about what has helped her along on her personal journey.

2 thoughts on “Reflection: My Experience with 988

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience with 988. I grew up in Ann Arbor but have lived in VA since 1982. I volunteer with NAMI Coastal Virginia and I’m a state trainer for Connections. Early on there were many negative reports with 988 only to discover the people reporting did not actually call or text 988. I tell people if you’re in immediate danger call 911 tell dispatch it’s a mental health crisis and request a CIT officer. However, if someone is experiencing ideation or emotional/behavioral shifts, calling or texting 988 is perfect. it’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours per day/7 days a week. NAMI and resources like 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline want people to know they are not alone and our Principles of Support says “We will NEVER give up hope!” Blessings and Wellness <3

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience of how the 988 call went. It sounds like it will be very helpful to people. I hope you have/had a good vacation.

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