The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI students work to bring 988 decals to UIPD vehicles

The group led efforts to add the 988 decals in May.
Iowa+City+Police+car+988+design+in+Iowa+City+on+Wednesday%2C+Nov%2C+16.+2022.+
Alex Snyder
Iowa City Police car 988 design in Iowa City on Wednesday, Nov, 16. 2022.

A group of University of Iowa students is working to bring new decals promoting the national suicide hotline number, 988, to police vehicles around Johnson County.

The decals were installed on University of Iowa Police Department vehicles in mid-May after the group worked with campus safety officials for over seven months to complete the project. The project is aimed at promoting the new number for the national suicide hotline that began in July 2022 to increase accessibility with a shortened three digits — and spread it across Johnson County.

Ella Brown, a May 2024 UI graduate and one of the student leaders of the project, said having the decals prominently displayed on police vehicles can help spread awareness of the resource in the community.

Brown said it also can better connect locals with the best resource for when they are having a mental health crisis, as dialing 988 directs callers to professional crisis counselors as opposed to police officers who may not be necessary or the best fit to respond to the situation at hand.

“Calling 988 can ensure that people in a crisis get the resources they need, and law enforcement may not be that resource,” Brown said. “So really spreading awareness and making 988 more well known in the community is really important to all of us.”

The group partnered with the UI Suicide Prevention Coalition in the process, and Marie Adams, who holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is the co-chair of the coalition, said the decals will be able to promote 988 at a larger scale.

“We know from research that crisis signage can be one of many useful interventions to promote awareness of a key resource,” Adams stated in an email to The Daily Iowan. “The entire signage project … demonstrates ongoing and intentional collaboration between campus partners who are equally invested in reducing mental health stigma, eliminating suicide, and broadcasting an enduring message of hope to the community.”

The new decals were welcomed by UIPD leadership in its continued effort to promote suicide prevention and mental health resources in the community and on campus, said Hayley Bruce, the UIPD public information officer.

She said the project cost $750 and that funding for the project came from the UIPD.

The project started when fourth-year UI student Jerad Nylin, who formerly interned with UIPD and currently volunteers there, saw the Iowa City Police Department vehicles had recently added the hotline number to their vehicles — but the university had not yet.

RELATED: Iowa City Police Department unveils 988 crisis line decal on new squad cars

Nylin said he has a passion for promoting access to mental health resources because of his own struggles with mental health while at the UI.

“I want to make seeking out mental health help as de-stigmatized as possible,” he said. “It is OK to reach out for help, and there’s hope so that when they are going through those difficult times 988 is a call away.”

Nylin said the group is continuing to reach out to leadership at law enforcement agencies around the county to bring decals to their vehicles beyond Iowa City.

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About the Contributor
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
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Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.