OREGON CITY, Oregon — The United States' new 988 suicide prevention hotline launched this weekend. The three-digit number is easy to remember, and it's great for getting people help, but mental health professionals in Clackamas County want people to know there are other resources nearby.
Jered Hinshaw, a mental health navigator with Clackamas County's Children, Family and Community Connections Division, said his agency is distributing bracelets with the county's own crisis phone number: 503-655-8585.
“For the purpose of bringing awareness to the crisis and support line in a stylish way that people will want to wear so they have access to that number, and letting them know that they are not alone,” Hinshaw explained.
Inscribed on the bracelets are the words, "Are you OK?" and "You are not alone." And unlike past bracelets, they also come in Spanish.
Olga Salinas, a family engagement coordinator and co-designer of the bracelets, said she pushed for adding the phrases in Spanish to reach more of the county's Hispanic community.
“Not only for themselves but for their children for their friends’ children, it was important to me to get this information in their hands,” said Salinas.
She said members of the Hispanic community are historically less likely to seek help.
“We wanted to give people a resource at their fingertips, so the crisis line phone number is on the inside,” said Salinas.
The local crisis line connects people with the Clackamas County Mental Health Center and, just like 988, people can call if they are in crisis or know of someone who is.
“And this is staffed 24/7 so we have folks answer that line and help folks navigate whatever it is they're going through,” crisis prevention supervisor Jeffrey Anderson said.
Anderson said call takers are highly trained and will help people get to the resources they need in a kind and compassionate way.
Adam Freer, director of Clackamas County's children, family and community connections division, said the crisis line is needed now more than ever.
“The kinds of stress that we are enduring in our society now are unparalleled and unprecedented,” said Freer.
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With a number to call close at hand, the small bracelets could potentially save lives.
“Once someone picks up on the other line and there's a warm voice that is kind and caring, hopefully that opens up the door for that person,” said Salinas.
Clackamas County is getting those bracelets out to mental health clients and at public events to let people know there is help close by.