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Suicide Prevention Experts and Suicide Survivor Available to Discuss Launch of 988 and Implications for Mental Health

David Covington, Tonja Myles, Dr. Chuck Browning


Suicide Prevention Experts and Suicide Survivor Available to Discuss Launch of 988 Crisis Line in July and Implications for Mental Health

Starting July 16, 2022 individuals at risk of suicide or in a mental health crisis will have be able to call 988 for emergency help — as an alternative to 911. The 988 crisis line will replace the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and also be rolled out in several states. Those who call 988 will be able to get immediate and appropriate care without having to encounter law enforcement or going to the ER.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, with one death every 11 minutes, according to the CDC. In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. The statistics on attempted suicide are even more grim — in 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.

Experts from RI International are available to speak with members of the media on the spectrum of issues related to mental health crises — what individuals in crisis need, where they can go for help and how the 988 crisis line can connect them to better options for care. They can also discuss what states need to do to be prepared to respond to emergencies and how they can overcome the barriers to providing better care.

David Covington, LPC, MBA, President and CEO
A licensed professional counselor, Mr. Covington is an architect of innovative, community-based care for individuals in crisis in multiple states.

He has served on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Executive Committee since 2010. He was also the vice-chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline SAMHSA Steering Committee from 2005 until 2020 and president of the American Association of Suicidology. He has served on numerous committees and task forces on clinical care and crisis services.

Mr. Covington was featured on USA Today, NPR and many other publications on the significance of the 988 launch and how it can support those in crisis.

Tonja Myles, Community Activist, Peer Support Specialist and Suicide Survivor
Ms. Myles is an ordained minister, a community activist, certified peer support specialist, veteran, and subject matter expert for community-based and systemic approaches to promote mental wellness and rehabilitation for recovery. She is an advocate for humane, compassionate and ethical treatment of individuals who suffer from mental illness.

She was nationally recognized by President George W. Bush during his 2003 State of the Union speech to the nation for her “personal perseverance in recovery and the work she does in the community.” With her wide network of community influencers, public officials and law enforcement, she has effectively and compassionately moved people to sobriety and healthy self-sustainable lifestyles.

Ms. Myles is the founder of Set Free Indeed, Community Liaison at RI International, and a recipient of the Baton Rouge Remarkable Women award. She has been featured on USA Today, testified on Capitol Hill, and continually shares her story in a variety of forums on the rollout of 988 and its potential impact to those that are most in need.

Chuck Browning, MD, Chief Medical Officer
“Dr. Chuck” Browning is the Chief Medical Officer of RI International and Medical Director of Behavioral Health Link, allowing him the opportunity for medical and clinical leadership of all three elements of Crisis Now (988. Mobile support, and Crisis Receiving Centers). He has devoted his career to improving the systems and care experience for our mental health needs. He has held leadership positions in public and private systems of care including Crisis System Care, Assertive Community Treatment Team, rural community behavioral health care company, and Opioid Treatment Programs.

He has special interests in promoting several thought leadership initiatives in collaboration with RI International including SAMSHA’s National Tool Kit for Behavioral Crisis Care (Project Writing and Editing Team), Crisis Now, 988, Zero Suicide, Peer 2.0, and The Fusion Model (the fusion of best practices of medical care with peer support and recovery-oriented care).

The 988 crisis line national launch is scheduled for July 16, 2022 and states are in various stages of adoption and preparation.

RI International experts are available for interviews and comments throughout June, July and August.

About RI International
RI International (a member company of Five Lanes Crisis Partners) is one of the nation’s leading crisis mental health service providers. Founded as a non-profit in 1990, the organization has over 50 recovery and crisis programs in Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington State. The organization has been accredited by Joint Commission since 1992. RI also provides training to mental health peer support specialists and has certified 15,500 peers around the world since 2000.

For interviews, photos, or additional background information, please contact RI International at 602-636-3092 or

Karen Jones
RI International
+1 602-636-3092
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