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Nevada 988 crisis call center also serves as national backup

The FBI is struggling to access the cellphone of the Texas church shooter, which is reportedly an iPhone, reigniting the debate over encryption.
Brandon Chew, NPR

A two-day summit on mental health in Nevada wrapped up on Wednesday.

The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is a national network providing mental health crisis resources. Officially launched in July 2022, each state is a part of this network, but according to Crisis Support Services of Nevada, not every state operates the same.

Crisis Support Services not only handles all Nevada calls, it is one of 12 back-up centers that also answers calls nationwide.

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"The key performance indicator that all 988 call centers wants is to answer 90% of the calls in 20 seconds," said executive director Rochelle Pelasier.

Pelasier said the Reno-based center has a better response rate for the national calls it takes than for calls within the state because the national network is funded.

Nevada was one of the first states to pass legislation to fund 988, but distributing those funds are at a standstill.

“Our data systems, our phone systems are made on duct tape and bailing wire is what I say, because we haven’t sat down and purchased a good system to be able to navigate this whole thing," she said.

Senate Bill 390 was passed in 2021, and that legislation calls for collecting fees on cell phones which would fund Nevada’s 988 line.

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Governor Joe Lombardo recently issued an executive order suspending all regulations. The Nevada State Board of Health plans to ask the governor’s office Friday for an exemption, so the cell phone fees could fund the state’s 988 line.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.
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