New National 3-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline Begins July 16

Those across the United States will soon be able to dial a three-digit number to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors.

Starting July 16, dialing 988 will direct callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

This is something that has been in the works for years. After a nationwide push, the Federal Communications Commission officially designated 988 as the hotline number in 2020. In November, the agency approved text access to 988.

When the change takes effect, callers won’t have to remember or find the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number, although it will still be available at its current number: 1-800-273-8255.

The hope is that the shorter number will be easier to remember and increase accessibility to the vital resources available.

The national rescue network, which has been in operation since 2005, is made up of more than 200 crisis centres.

Here is a list of resources on suicide prevention and mental health:

If you think someone is at risk of suicide, the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests:

  • Ask questions to find out if the person is having suicidal thoughts.
  • Call US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 Where 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Seek help from a health or mental health professional. If it is an emergency, take the person to the hospital.
  • Remove all items from a person’s home that could be used in a suicide.
  • Do not leave the person alone, if possible, until help is available.

The American organization National Suicide Prevention has also compiled a list of resources to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.