New 988 Mental Health Hotline Extension Is Aimed To Help Veterans
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Mental health resources are more accessible than ever with the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Simply dial extension 1 to connect with a professional counselor who specializes in veterans.
“There’s a lot going on in the world and some veterans are still dealing with situations they encountered while serving in the military,” said Sonya Smith, chief cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Veterans Affairs. Some are very comfortable talking about things right away, and some veterans take a little longer.”
“The idea that this is specifically designed for our veterans is great,” she added.
The latest data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows a steep decline in veteran suicide deaths from 2017 to 2019.
In New Mexico, 68 veterans took their own lives in 2019, Smith said. That number is lower than in previous years, but she said she won’t stop working until both local and national leaders are at zero.
“Obviously too much,” said Smith. “So we want to come up with some interventions and strategies on how to reduce the number of suicides and, more importantly, how to prevent them.”
The new 988 Lifeline is a big part of this goal and aims to ensure that those who fought for their country have access to mental health resources whenever they need them.
“It doesn’t matter when they break up, whether they’re on duty now, or in 20 or 30 years,” Smith said. “We have to keep our promise to keep them healthy. It means that you must commit to doing so.”