FirstLink advocates for access fee for 988 suicide & crisis lifeline

BISMARCK, N.D. (KVRR) — A Fargo nonprofit pushes for a North Dakota Senate bill that would charge an access fee to citizens every time someone dials 988 during a behavioral health emergency.

It’s similar to North Dakotans paying 50 cents every time you hear a tornado siren except people would only pay 30 cents.

FirstLink handled more than 15,000 calls and texts throughout 2021 for people struggling with suicidal thoughts. They took just under 150 calls and texts in January.

The nonprofit now turns to the state to approve state funding of the bill so they can continue their mission.

“There’s a blizzard throughout North Dakota and our call volume among the youth is so high right now. The students, our youth are at home and their parents are at work and they’re looking out the window and the snow is getting deeper and blowing around. They are depressed. We’re just trying to find the best source of how to pay for the 988 services that all of North Dakota really needs,” FirstLink Executive Director Jennifer Illich said.

Don’t hesitate to call 988 if you or a loved one is experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Categories: Health, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections