The new three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) number 988 will launch on July 16. Similar to dialing 911 for medical emergencies, people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis will be able to call or text 988 and be connected immediately to trained counselors who will listen, provide support and connect people to resources if necessary. The dialing code is new, but the Lifeline is not. Callers can currently reach the crisis 24/7 national hotline by dialing 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The easy-to-remember dialing code (988) is meant to replace that number; however, the current 10-digit phone will remain available after 988 is launched nationally.

The Lifeline has been in operation since 2005 and is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Since its founding, the Lifeline has received more than 20 million calls from people in distress looking for help when they needed it most.

According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst preteens and adults aged 25 to 34. This new three-digit dialing code will be a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress, which can include thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or other emotional struggles. People can also call 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need emergency support.

As the HHS is mandating a countrywide transition to 988, states are considering how to integrate Lifeline into their existing crisis call systems. A new three-digit dialing code could provide immediate support during someone’s darkest hour.

For mental health resources, talk to your doctor or AHW coach.