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Tri-State teen encourages people struggling with their mental health to call 988, a new crisis line

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched July 16.
988 Suicide Hotline
Posted at 11:26 AM, Jul 16, 2022

CINCINNATI — Jake Hertzman knows the impact death by suicide can have on a family.

“My cousin at the age of 14 ended up taking his own life," Hertzman said. "That brought the issue a lot closer to home. It made it more personally connected, emotional topic for me.”

Hertzman got more involved in mental health advocacy after his cousin’s death and is elated to see a new nationwide lifeline become available.

People experiencing a mental health crisis now have a new three-digit number to call or text. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched July 16 and provides free and confidential emotional support to those who need help.

Hertzman is a recent high school graduate and is the founder of the 988 Initiative in Cincinnati.

He hopes 988 will be the 911 for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

“I think it is a big deal to have an easier to remember number because a lot of people in a moment of crisis are not going to be able to remember a 10-digit number or don’t want to look up a 6-digit number that they can text,” he said.

Hertzman noted there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and is hopeful this lifeline will make people more comfortable talking about the subject.

“There’s always people out there that care about you and at the same time there’s a lot of resources available to you if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to somebody that you know,” Hertzman said.

He has worked with 1N5, various high schools and the Cincinnati Reds to spread awareness about mental health, and he's hopeful the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline will further the conversation around the importance of mental health.

“I think accessibility to resources is one of the most important things for mental health outreach," Hertzman said. "If people feel more comfortable and feel it’s easier to get the help they need… I think you’re going to see greater outreach of people who are struggling in addition to a greater outreach of people who know they’re struggling."

If you need mental health support you can call or text 988.

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