RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been eight months since the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched in North Carolina and WakeMed Psychiatrist Dr. Nerissa Price says it has become a critical tool in helping an underserved community.
"It's a much needed resource. There are a lot of folks in the community who are suffering," said Price.
The national hotline was launched last July. It's federally funded and the government has invested close to $1 billion.
"Sadly, sometimes our system is difficult to navigate, so having that number to call to point you in the right direction quickly. So I've had some patients comment to me that for their own family members, that they were able in a time of crisis reach out and had a really good results because of reaching," said Price.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says there have been more than 31,000 calls since the launch. There has been an 85% increase in callers identifying "substance abuse" as their primary reason and roughly a 20% rise in call volume.
Price hopes it'll becomes a permanent service that'll become engrained in a more comprehensive strategy to help people, especially young adults.
Price, an NC State alum, says what's been happening at her alma mater is heartbreaking.
There have been nine student deaths since the start of the school year. Many of those students dying by suicide.
"Just hearing about our young people, and these are trends that you see nationally as well - particularly seem to be impacting. I would just say check on your people," said Price.