A shortened three-digit number will replace the current 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting July 16.
The new number will be 988 and is expected to be easier to use for people in the middle of a crisis.
In 2020, 988 was designated by Congress through the National Hotline Designation Act after a recommendation from the Federal Communications Commission in 2019.
Since then, the federal government has increased investment into the lifelines’ network with $282 million in investment to aid with the transition to the new number and strengthen its infrastructure this year.
The investment for the transition is 10 times the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2021 budget amount of $24 million, according to a SAMHSA media release. A large portion of 2022 funding will be distributed to crisis centers across the country.
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When people are in crisis, they often aren’t in a position to remember a ten-digit number, so a short three-digit number will hopefully lead to better outcomes and people in crisis getting the treatment they need, said Kourtne Roberts, Crossroads Psychiatry psychiatrist. The national lifeline network has been around for years, and it’s nice to see Congress and the federal government investing to help address this need, she said.
Until the number goes into effect, anyone in a mental health crisis or emotional distress should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), according to the SAMHSA media release. People not in crisis who are seeking treatment options for mental health conditions should visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.