988 Hotline Launched As 911 For Mental Health Emergencies

Tom Wood

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988 Hotline Launched As 911 For Mental Health Emergencies

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

A new three-digit hotline has been launched in the US for people who are at risk of suicide or experiencing mental health issues.

The new 988 number will take anyone who calls from within the US to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing an old 10-digit 800 number.

The idea is that anyone who is experiencing a mental health crisis can call and connect immediately with trained mental health professionals who are equipped to respond to such emergencies.

It went live on Saturday morning, and will run 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, to provide free and confidential help to those who are in need of it.

The new number is easier to remember than the 10-digit number before.
The new number is easier to remember than the 10-digit number before.

The Lifeline website reads: “The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care.

“Since its inception, the Lifeline has engaged in a variety of initiatives to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all, including innovative public messaging, best practices in mental health, and groundbreaking partnerships.”

The new number will connect the caller to a certified crisis centre close to the area where the call comes from, and there are 200 crisis centres around the US.

The website continues: “When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counsellors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network,

“These trained counsellors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.”

The change of number to a three-digit format is intended to be easier to remember than the previous 10-digit phone number.

The old number can still be used, however.
The old number can still be used, however.

It also aims to streamline mental health crisis response so that those in immediate difficulty can get the help they need quicker than if they were to call 911, which would take them through to law enforcement rather than mental health support.

The launch of this new number comes two years after the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was passed to designate 988 as the universal number for the mental health crisis and suicide hotline.

The old number - 800-273-8255 – will remain operational despite the launch of the new number.

Additional resources are available at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources or through texting HOME to 741741.

If you're in the UK and you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.

Topics: News, US News, Mental Health, Health

Tom Wood
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