JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Partnership for Child Health, Lutheran Services of Florida and Voices Institute are hosting an event to let people know about the new 988 suicide prevention hotline launching July 17, and to encourage teens to “kick mental health stigma.”
The day will be filled with activities: spoken word, musical performances and first-hand testimonials. There will also be a kickball game.
The 988 Youth Wellness Event, the mental health awareness and suicide prevention program, is being held Tuesday at Citi Teen Center: Boys & Girls Club, for the 100 kids who are already enrolled in their summer camp.
“We could prevent so many deaths,” said 15-year-old Ranaya Byers, who is helping assemble free grab bags with office supplies and other tools with the “988″ number stamped on them, which will serve as reminders that this hotline is available.
“You don’t have to go through it alone,” she said.
The purpose of the event is to encourage young people and their parents to better understand mental health while breaking down the stigma that surrounds the issue.
“We listened to our young people about their wants and concerns. This event will take a holistic and youth-guided approach to overall mental well-being. We want to let our teens know that national resources are available for those experiencing mental health issues or thinking about suicide,” said Dr. Vicki Waytowich, executive director of The Partnership for Child Health. “In addition, our community will soon have local expertise and resources available from the 988 number as it rolls out to the public nationwide.”
The wellness event is named in part after the new, three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 988 number will be available across the United States on July 16 with community resources and outreach available in Duval County in the near future. Trained counselors will listen and provide support to callers.
The event also coincides with National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The goal is to bring awareness to the unique struggles facing minority communities such as suicide, depression and anxiety.