NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It was in 2005 when the depression and anxiety became too much for Brian Sullivan.
“I had struggled and there was a lot of turmoil in my life,” he said. “My mother died of kidney failure, and she had opioids left over that she had left, and I took those and overdosed because I wanted to end my life.”
But after years of therapy and self reflection, he’s grateful his suicide attempt was unsuccessful.
“When I look back on that, so much of my life I would have missed if that had happened and I succeeded in that,” Sullivan said.
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For years, those battling suicide or mental health issues were encouraged to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
And after years of waiting, that number will officially drop from 10 digits to three.
The hotline number will now be 988, a simple three-digit number that is easier to remember than the previous 1-800 number.
“When you’re going through that situation and you’re in that space, you’re not thinking about the numbers in your head or even finding the number,” said of the former number. “But if it was three digits, then maybe you could remember that. It’s a big deal. It’s historic when you think about it.”
“If I had to look up a phone number versus remembering 988, it’s a whole lot different,” said Ronny Beasley.
Beasley is the fire chief for the city of La Vergne and says the phone number change is something he is excited about.
“It’s not just for the person that’s thinking about suicide or has those ideas; it’s also for a family member, a coworker, a friend that they can call,” he said.
Beasley says they along with other first responders do respond to suicide calls, and he thinks this could help lower those calls and also serve as another tool for first responders who also struggle with thoughts of suicide.
“Some things we deal with are not normal for anybody to see, and we’re no different,” he said. “A firefighter, a police officer, medical providers are no different than anybody else.”
With the number going live Saturday, Sullivan is hopeful the change will be another tool to help save someone’s life.
“I think that this is a good thing from every angle,” he said. “Not just mental health…it affects everything. It affects everything that’s going on in our society.”
People can not only call but text 988, which will connect them to trained counselors and over 200 crisis centers within the lifeline’s network.
You can learn more about the new change as well as find resources for those dealing with suicide or mental health issues here.