There’s a renewed focus on mental health in America after a wave of recent mass shootings, and within a month there will be a new way to reach out for help.
Effective July 6th, each state will be rolling out 988 as the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. Americans will be able to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with the easy-to-remember number.
In July of 2020 the Federal Communications Commission unanimously finalized 9-8-8 as the new digits. The FCC said the number will make it easier for those in crisis to get the help they need. Suicide has been among the leading causes of death in the country since 2018.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act which designated 9-8-8 as the suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis line is 10-digits, which is a barrier to Americans in crisis seeking support.
With the July deadline approaching, the problem is, not all states may be in a position to fund the changeover, properly staff call centers or have response teams on standby. In fact, a new Rand report found just 16-percent of public health officials responsible for the coming transition said they had helped develop a budget to support 988 operations.
During the transition to 9-8-8, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.