SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — In just a little over one month from now, a new suicide prevention lifeline will be activated and taking calls from people in crisis. For the past year, the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls has been busy preparing for the July 16th launch date. That includes the 211 supervisor whose outreach to people who are in a dark place has been shaped by personal tragedy.

Dialing 988 will be a lifesaver for people who call the number starting next month.

“I think it has the potential to transform the crisis response system,” Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said.

The Helpline Center has been hiring additional workers to handle the expected rise in calls with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

“Projections have shown that our call volume will double, maybe triple, in the next year, just as people begin to know 988 and are comfortable dialing it,” Kittams said.

Part of the ramp-up to the 988 Lifeline includes getting new workers ready ahead of the July 16th launch. And that includes holding training sessions in large classrooms like this every month.

“Our training is a combination of classroom training and then shadowing and on-the-job training where they listen and learn from a current call specialist and then they actually begin taking calls with somebody partnered with them,” Kittams said.

Kylee Wilmarth is a soothing voice of experience at the Helpline Center. The 211 supervisor has fielded her share of calls from people with suicidal thoughts.

“Every call is different. Every individual is different. So we just have to take that call on an individual basis and treat that call as a new call and leave our emotions and personal views and beliefs outside of that call,” Wilmarth said.

But that emotional detachment, so key in helping callers who are struggling, comes in spite of a great personal loss for Wilmarth.

“I lost my brother to suicide in 2014,” Wilmarth said.

Wilmarth was just 18 when her brother, Jacob, then 22, died by suicide: a loss she feels every day.

“Probably, just that support from him. He was my older brother, so,” Wilmarth said.

Wilmarth says her brother showed no outward signs that he was struggling. Her grief motivated her toward a career path in helping others.

“I would say it’s made me stronger, it’s definitely opened up my mind a lot about just mental health in general and how anyone you can come across, or even a loved one or a sibling or a parent could be going through a dark time and not reaching out for support or help,” Wilmarth said.

“I think a lot of our staff come with their personal experiences in their life, whether that’s a loss like Kylee had or perhaps their family members struggle with mental health or substance use issues and I think we all bring that to the table when they answer those phone calls and that’s why we’re so compassionate and understanding when we’re there to help people,” Kittams said.

Wilmarth credits emotional support from others for helping her cope with her brother’s death. Now she’s offering that same kind of support, to those on the other end of the line.

“I think that’s the thing that I learned the most from my brother’s passing, is just to be more aware, be more kind to people, be more genuine,” Wilmarth said.

Wilmarth hopes the 988 Lifeline will also help in erasing the stigma surrounding suicide.

If you, or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, call 211 or 1-800-273-8255. It’s available day or night.

The Helpline Center also offers information about suicide prevention resources.