The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is changing to a simpler, shorter number – 988. Starting on July 16, 2022, to reach the hotline you will be able to call 988 instead of 1-800-273-8255.
The new three-digit code works in the same way that 911 works for an emergency hotline, reaching local resources wherever you are in the country.
“We’ve been working with partners across the state to prepare for this since it was approved in 2020,” said Mark Miller, executive vice president of Behavioral Health at Swope Health. The Missouri Mental Health network of providers, law enforcement and a wide variety of other agencies have been preparing for and have created a strong partnership to implement the new 988 system.
“This program will strengthen and transform crisis care in the United States,” Miller said. “This easy-to-remember number is going to save lives.”
When you dial 988, you will be connected with a crisis counselor trained to provide care and support for anyone experiencing mental-health related distress. Organized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the program can assist with thoughts of suicide, substance use crisis, trauma or other emotional distress.
The National Suicide hotline was launched in 2005 and later expanded to include Spanish language support, text messages and a chat function, receives 3.3 million calls. There are around 200 local and independently owned crisis centers that support the network.
You can call, text or chat to the 988 code. The number is available to anyone, including people who may be worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
The 988 lifeline is free and confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The service is available in Spanish and includes translation support for 150 languages.
“We know there’s a tremendous need for crisis support,” Miller said. “In the US, there’s one death by suicide about every 11 minutes. There’s so much pain and trauma, and we know the pandemic has only made it worse.”
According to federal research, suicide is a leading cause of death for those age 10-34. Research shows that suicide hotlines save lives and can contribute to reducing the estimated $34 billion in annual medical and work-loss costs of suicide in the U.S.