NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Three numbers are making a big difference.

“I just never thought I would see this in my lifetime,” said Becky Stoll. “I’ve worked in mental health for a really long time.” 

That’s how Stoll, who is the Vice President of Crisis Services for Centerstone, feels about the numbers 9-8-8, our nation’s suicide and crisis lifeline.

“It is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” she said. “It’s a game changer.”

Stoll was one of many waiting for the official number change last summer.

“I don’t even feel like we launched with fingers crossed,” said Stoll. “I launched with a wide-eyed enthusiasm for let’s go. We’re ready.”

Now, six months later, Tennessee’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) released new data about its impact.

Since implementation, nearly 21,000 calls have been made, and nearly 10,000 texts have been sent to 988 in Tennessee.

“I would say we were not surprised by those numbers,” said Mary Linden Salter.

Salter is the acting executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and says the ability to text and chat is a huge benefit to the community.

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“People will call but then the minute somebody walks into the room or something happens they hang up, whereas if they’re on a text they feel like it’s more private,” she said.

Texting is something Stoll sees more youth using as well.

“That just thrills me to death because I think that means we’re getting young people that we probably wouldn’t get if those weren’t available,” she said.

The state’s data also shows the majority of their calls are for mental health referrals, with less than 2% on average requiring the use of law enforcement.

“It certainly is a great way to meet an urgent need, but there’s more we can do,” said Salter. “There’s definitely more we can do, and I think it will expand the conversation.”

As the state works to continue expanding resources, both women are grateful people in Tennessee are reaching out for help.

“Let’s be there for people in crisis, and let’s be there for people hopefully before that happens,” said Stoll.

TDMHSAS says they currently have six providers that help with resources across Tennessee and are working to add another provider in February.

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TDMHSAS also wants to start monitoring data when it comes to how often law enforcement has to be contacted as well.