On Saturday, July 16, people nationwide had access to the new three-digit number that would direct callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The new dialing code 988 was modeled after the 911 number and will make it easier for those in need of help as a result of a mental situation or crisis to get the professional counseling necessary.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, “Transition to 988 is an important step forward and offers an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and transform crisis care in our country.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) first formulated the number in 2020 and got it signed during the Trump administration at the time.
The bipartisan bill that is now a law made it required for the FCC to have 988 as the universal number for people to connect to the suicide hotline. It also required The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work together to make the number effective and functional for everyone.
The SAMHSA website also reads “the vision for 988 is to build a robust crisis care response system across the country that links callers to community-based providers who can deliver a full range of crisis care services, if needed (like mobile crisis teams or stabilization centers), in addition to connecting callers to tools and resources that will help prevent future crisis situations.
The lifeline includes a network of 200 crisis centers aimed towards properly handling mental health-related and substance abuse-related emergencies since 2005.
The new 988 number is needed to meet the demands of the consistently active 24/7 lifeline and the employees working it.
No matter where a person is in the country, they can reach the plethora of counseling agents by entering that number via text, chat or call.
Although the new number was officially launched, the original 10-digit number 1-800-273-8255 will remain accessible. It will still be routed to the 988 number.
The number was created to be able to provide service and resources to those in need instead of having to turn to 911, which is more so focused on public safety matters that involve law enforcement.
COVID-19 contributed negatively to the increasing number of suicide and substance abuse cases in the United States.
The SAMHSA website states that the country had a suicide death every 11 minutes just in the year 2020 solely.
The 988 dialing code is anticipated to grow and popularize through the years like 911 and will give people who are struggling with certain mental distress circumstances a better way of contacting those who are capable of assisting them.
The line is looking for individuals interested in working or volunteering. Training will be provided for all who are interested.
Interested people can look at available positions based on their current living state or area.
To reach out for a potential position with the call center, people can go to this website for more information.