A call-taker advises the anxious during a shift on Vermont’s suicide-prevention hotline

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont has two call centers that are part of the new nationwide 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

The 24-hour service, chronically underfunded since its inception in 2005, received a $400 million federally funded reboot this summer in response to a surge of mental illness in the U.S.

The money allowed the patchwork of 200 call centers that run the hotline to hire more staff and funded the creation of an additional two dozen phone banks. The infusion also allowed the hotline to transition from the 10-digit number that most people know from warning labels on TV episodes to the far easier-to-remember “988.”

The Northwestern Counseling & Support Services in St. Albans and the Northeast Kingdom Human Services in St. Johnsbury is responsible for running the Vermont operations 24/7.

Darren Perron spoke with Seven Days’ Colin Flanders, who wrote about the local call centers in this week’s issue.