From this Saturday July 16 anyone in the US experiencing mental health distress can simply call or text the number 988 to get connected with a trained counselor.
A suicide prevention hotline has been around for 17 years now but the current number (1-800-273-8255) has rightly been perceived as too unmemorable and cumbersome. The old number will still be accessible but the new number should ensure that anyone in dire need of help will be able to reach out and get what they need when they most need it.
Another tweak to the service is that it will now be known as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a change designed to emphasize the fact that you don’t need to be suicidal to need mental health supports.
Although there have been changes, counselors on the other end will continue to provide direct help as well as connecting callers with more long-term supports and services, or, if needed, local crisis teams or emergency dispatch units.
If you or someone you know needs help today call 1-800-273-8255 but from Saturday all you need to remember are these three digits: 988.