The new national suicide hotline officially launched on Saturday, July 16. Those seeking mental health can now text or call “988” to reach trained counselors.
While the existing 1-800-273-8255 will still be in operation, this new three-digit number has been created to expand services beyond suicide crisis to also include general mental health and emotional concerns.
The updated number is also intended to make it easier for people in crisis to remember and thus, utilize efficiently when needed.
Trained employees and volunteers will staff the 24-hour number and in some states, even connect the caller with local crisis teams.
Individuals can also call on behalf of someone else that they are concerned about. Experts will be able to offer guidance, especially if the caller believes the individual may hurt themselves.
No matter if a caller is reaching out for themselves or someone close to them, counselors will guide the caller in creating a road map to talk through the issue at hand, offer advice and provide concrete next steps to help them maintain control. Calls typically last 15 to 20 minutes and are anonymous unless the caller requires immediate medical attention.
“If someone has been through a traumatic event and is struggling to process it — and there are traumatic events happening throughout this country — this is a place to turn to,” said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.