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Mental health crisis text message hotline approved by Santa Clara County

Hotline offer 4,500 crisis counselors for residents

Santa Clara County residents struggling with mental health crises can now use a text message-based hotline to access help.

The Crisis Text Line system has existed throughout the country for about five years, but county officials officially signed onto the program on Monday.

The hotline has received 86 million text messages since 2013 and offers 4,500 crisis counselors, according to the county. Anyone in need of help can text "RENEW" to 741741.

"The ability to offer text-based support to people in need adds a new dimension to our services, and is an especially important tool to offer to young people in Santa Clara County," Toni Tullys, director of county's behavioral health department, said in a news release.

According to the county's open data portal, 1,474 people died of suicide between 2007 and 2016. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control found Morgan Hill and Palo Alto to have the highest rates of suicide in the county for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24.

A large majority of users accessing the text hotline are younger than 25, and the county hopes the hotline will address suicides among teenagers and young adults in college.

The text system will supplement the county's existing confidential phone hotline at 855-278-4204.

Supervisors approved the program with a $24,500 contract, according to behavioral health spokesman Maury Kendall.

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