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988 crisis hotline connects people with LGBTQ mental health resources

While the national number hasn't been promoted much in Colorado since it launched in July, that's changing after the Club Q shooting.

DENVER — The tragedy at Club Q is changing the way Colorado is encouraging people to get mental health help. The national crisis hotline hasn’t been promoted or used much in Colorado since it launched its new 988 number earlier this year. In the past week, crisis service providers have learned pointing people to the specific LGBTQ+ resources it offers can be helpful.

"The change in the last week or so is that we’ve started to talk about and bring the resource of 988 more publicly," Cheri Skelding, Clinical Director at Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners in Denver, said.

After a traumatic event like we saw at Club Q, Skelding said she sees callers mentioning the news more often. 

The shooting at Club Q is now changing how they’re encouraging people to get help. In Colorado, the number to call for crisis services has long been 844-493-8255. The calls are answered by people who work at Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners who can direct people to local services.

Last July, the national suicide prevention hotline launched its new 988 number. It hasn’t been promoted much here and only sees a fourth of the state's call volume right now compared to the Colorado Crisis Services line. 

But on that 988 line, callers have the option to get specific help from people in the LGBTQ community. The service is run by The Trevor Project, aimed for LGBTQ youth. It’s proved helpful this week.

"That option on the 988 to press three really gets you to someone who specializes in giving support to LGBTQ individuals," Skelding said. "That number, you may start seeing a little more because we wanted to get that resource out there as well."

There are some problems with the 988 number, which is why it hasn’t been promoted much here in Colorado. 

For example, if someone recently moved here from California and still has a California number, when they call that national hotline, they’ll be routed to a call center in California. That makes it harder to get access to local resources that people like Colorado Crisis Services can provide.

People can also call the Colorado Crisis Services number and be connected with a call taker who is LGBTQ.

But the 988 resources can be valuable to offer specific help in a time when lots are struggling to make sense of the news.

"Can people still call and speak to someone in Colorado? Absolutely," Skelding said. "We’re really supporting people through difficult things that all of us are going through too."

Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners said it's hiring more call takers to help people in crisis. You can find out more information here.

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