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Beginning Saturday, July 16th a new three-digit number 9-8-8 will be available for callers trying to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Currently, those seeking someone to talk to must dial the traditional ten-digit number to reach a counselor. Now all someone will have to do is dial 9-8-8.

This is something that has been in the works for a couple of years now. Approved in October 2020, the 9-8-8 designation was signed into law and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now requires telephone providers to make dialing 9-8-8 accessible by July 16, 2022, so those that are seeking help during a mental health crisis or other crisis, they will have an easy number to remember.

Dailing 9-8-8 will connect those in need with a trained counselor. NPR reports Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services says that,

If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there. 988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help."

While calling this new number and speaking to a counselor, some calls may be transferred to a local office because the national center is still short on resources. There is also a benefit of speaking with someone on a local level because they will have access to more local providers and could connect people with support groups or others to speak with within their community.

You can help answer the call of those seeking help.

The Lifeline network, operators of 9-8-8, are looking for volunteers and paid employees to fully staff up the call center. It will take trained professionals to assist those seeking help during an extremely stressful moment in their life.

The previous line is not going away.

The current phone number, 1.800.273.8255, will remain active. Anyone experiencing emotional distress or suicidal crisis can still dial this ten-digit number and reach the same assistance as dialing 9-8-8.

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