Building partnerships to support 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s reach throughout South Carolina is an important piece of advancing equity in access to crisis services. While 988’s first year of operation in the state has given not only callers but program administrators reason for hope, there are still members of our community who may be reluctant to engage with emergency or crisis intervention services, which leaves lives on the line.
During recent committee meetings of South Carolina’s 988 Advisory Board, Nicole Coleman, Volunteer Coordinator/Trainer for MHAGC’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, was moved by the unique experiences and needs expressed by specific communities and took the opportunity to engage in ways that have produced new partnerships, mutual learning, and opportunities to build trust.
Coleman says, “The goal is to expand accessibility and inclusivity of our services so that everyone is getting equitable and excellent services whenever they reach out.” She adds, “We see such a wide range of circumstances and experiences from people calling in on the hotlines, so making sure our [Lifeline workers] are educated and aware of how best to support everyone is so important.” Here are some highlights from those emerging partnerships.
Mandy Halloran, Director of Public Health & Disability Integration at ABLE SC, collaborated with Coleman to provide mutual education about each agency’s services. Halloran help Lifeline staff learn why people with disabilities are at higher risk of adverse outcomes during emergency interventions and urged staff to consider how these interactions may feel for people who may be nonverbal, have different communication styles, or process information or commands in different ways.
The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) supports domestic violence and sexual assault agencies all over the state. As part of Suicide Prevention Month, Coleman will speak to all SCCADVASA member agencies about crisis intervention and suicide prevention. In turn, Shannon Nix, Director of Member Support and Technical Assistance for SCCADVASA, made a presentation to Lifeline workers on how to talk to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The presentation covered a variety of topics, including safety planning, which is distinct from safety planning with someone who may be suicidal. Nix pointed out the high correlation between domestic violence and sexual assault trauma and suicide and mental health interventions. Coleman looks forward to more collaboration with these and other agencies that have an interest or need related the work of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.