State launches crisis line dedicated to suicide prevention

The Hawaii State Department of Health launched a new phone line Wednesday dedicated to suicide prevention and crisis intervention.

Since 2002, the department’s Adult Mental Health Division (AMHD) has operated a statewide ACCESS Line program that served two purposes.

It provided phone counseling and support to individuals who are contemplating suicide or experiencing other types of personal crises, and helped Hawaii residents with personalized advice on how to access state-funded mental health services.

Now, the division is separating the two to effectively address both needs.

One phone line will be dedicated to helping people find out if they are eligible for government-sponsored mental health services. The number for the new AMHD Eligibility Line, which is now operational, is 643-AMHD.

The other phone line is the newly named Crisis Line of Hawaii. The Crisis Line of Hawaii is a “warm line,” staffed 24/7, thanks to funding for two additional full-time equivalent positions.

Although the name of the suicide prevention and counseling line has changed, the phone and fax numbers remain the same.

On Oahu, it is 832-3100. Neighbor island residents may call toll free at 1-800-753-6879. The fax number is (808) 453-6391.

“This new phone line is strictly dedicated to helping individuals who are facing crises,” said Steven Balcom, crisis/residential treatment services coordinator with AMHD. “To ensure easy access, we have renamed the ACCESS Line the Crisis Line of Hawaii. This reflects our renewed focus on our program’s primary mission of providing crisis support to the community.”

In Hawaii, officials say suicide is the most common cause of fatal injuries among residents, outpacing car crashes, homicide, poisoning and drowning. It is estimated that one suicide is committed every two days in Hawaii.

About 20 percent of the 75,000 calls received on the Department of Health’s ACCESS Line last year related to crisis intervention, officials said.

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