COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — The nonprofit organization answering calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline made by South Carolinians said it needs sustainable funding beginning next month.

Starting July 16, people can dial 988 to reach the crisis hotline. Mental Health America of Greenville County said it expects calls for help to increase anywhere from four to 10 times more than its current call volume.

To keep up with that demand, Executive Director Jennifer Piven said it needs additional funding to add more staff.

“We have just hit our seventh month of 80% answer rate for calls, but all our planning funds are going away,” Piven said.

The operating budget for the call center last year was $1.3 million.

She said if the group doesn’t come up with the money, she anticipates they’ll be able to answer 10-to-13% of the calls, texts and chats coming in after the increase in calls. Any unanswered call will be redirected to a national backup call center.

“They’ll be in our queue for about three minutes and be routed out,” Piven said. “Are our youth going to wait that three minutes? Are they going to stay on the phone? That is where our greatest concern is.”

According to Piven, the group is applying for grants and have started a fundraiser.

State lawmakers did not pass legislation this year to create a sustainable funding mechanism to support the call center. Lawmakers are considering funding a second 988 call center in South Carolina.

The Senate’s version of the budget included over $1 million for this. A Budget Conference Committee is currently working on a budget compromise, so it’s unclear whether or not this second center will be funded this upcoming fiscal year.

For more information on Mental Health America of Greenville County and their efforts click or tap here.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts you can get free and confidential support 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.