988 is live: let’s make sure Spanish speakers know too

Telemundo announces the launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

By: Amanda Cruz

In July, the 988 the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline went live nationwide. This critical number will make mental health and crisis support much more accessible to anyone who needs it.

So, when it was announced in a staff meeting that the Spanish language tv network, Telemundo, was featuring the launch, my jaw, quite literally dropped. At the time, I looked at one of my colleagues who is also Latina and her expression reaffirmed the emotions I was feeling. Complete shock. But in the best way.

This was the channel my dad watched the news on during the week and poorly dubbed Hollywood movies on the weekends. The fact that this channel was highlighting the 988 crisis line meant that I now had a tool for talking about 988 with my dad. He is a native Spanish speaker and English is his second language, but as he ages, he uses English less frequently. I’m a native English speaker and Spanish is my second language. But my Spanish proficiency has declined as I’ve gotten older and moved away from my family. So talking about complex issues can be a challenge. I rarely have the right words in Spanish to talk to my dad about the issues I care about, including mental health.

Amanda Cruz and her dad
Amanda Cruz and her dad

So you can imagine my excitement now that I can send him the news story about 988 and let him know that this is a number anyone who needs help can call, even Spanish speakers. I can also tell him (proudly) that this is the work that your daughter is a part of.

Telemundo is a trusted source of information in many of these communities, so I’m also thinking about all the other Spanish-speaking families who will benefit from seeing this video. Families who don’t hear about the resources available to them because they aren’t being targeted for outreach or other families whose children can’t communicate fluently with them because of language barriers.

There is still work to do in order to build trust between certain communities and services like 988, but the fact that those communities are hearing about its existence during its launch from a trusted source is extremely important. I’m not only grateful for the accessibility that 988 will create for people who need care and don’t have anywhere to turn — but for the fact that there are efforts to ensure Spanish-speaking communities know about this critical resource.

Note: While the 988 telephone lifeline is available for Spanish speakers, currently 988 text and chat services are English only.


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