New 988 suicide lifeline number sees increase in calls

By: Santiago Caicedo

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Calls into the 988 Suicide and Crisis lifeline have increased since its launch, but one local expert believes there's still more work to be done among Hispanics to erase the stigma.

In 2013, Andrew Peralez took his own life at 17. His mother, Yolanda Estrada Peralez, remembers her son stopped caring about his appearance and had mood swings — signs she didn't recognize at the time.

"The signs out there; my son showed every sign,” Yolanda said. "After I lost my son, I found myself in his shoes.

Enedina Enríquez is a social worker at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and leads the local chapter of the foundation for suicide prevention. Enriquez says even though the suicide prevention hotline 988 is easier to remember, there is still more work to be done to have more Latinos on the other side of that line.

"It's not to say that just because I'm Latina that I truly understand the Latino culture; part of the training needs to be culturally competent and sensitive," Enriquez said.

Between August 2021 and August 2022, calls for help rose from around 141,000 to more than 216,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. Text messages answered by the hotline went up 1,000 percent.

For mothers like Yolanda, simply talking could save a life.

"You love your children,” Yolanda said. “You're going to educate yourself to educate your children and talk to them about mental health."

The local chapter of the foundation for suicide prevention is constantly involved in the community.

More resources can be found below:

If you or someone you know needs help, you're not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.


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