After Phone Glitch, Samaritans Hotline Head Talks Mental Health Needs

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(Samaritans Inc/

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — There's a sign at the Sagamore Bridge that asks desperate people to call the Samaritans suicide prevention hotline.

When nobody's at the organization's Cape Cod office, those calls are supposed to go to the Boston office—but, as reported by the Cape Cod Times Wednesday, that didn't happen.

A Barnstable woman told the paper she called the numbers listed on the sign several times in the last few weeks, but was unable to reach anyone.

That issue has been fixed, Boston Samaritans Executive Director Steve Mongeau tells WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal.

But he says it illustrates their need for volunteers.

"We talk to 85 percent of the people who reach out to us for help on a daily basis," Mongeau said. "That's a good score card in the world of crisis centers, but it still means we're missing 15 percent of the people who get the courage up to reach out and ask for help."

He says he also wants a proposed mental health hotline—a federal bill proposed by Rep. Seth Moulton and modeled after 911—to become law.

Rep. Moulton Introduces Bill To Set '988' As Mental Health Hotline Number - Thumbnail Image

Rep. Moulton Introduces Bill To Set '988' As Mental Health Hotline Number

"A three-digit code for people who are dealing with mental health issues and challenges, to be similar to 911," he said, describing the proposed '988' system. "A national network that's truly integrated, so that we can have much higher answer rates and support more people in their moment of crisis. I hope that comes to pass."

Hear more from Mongeau below.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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