To be honest, as much as I wish I could, I couldn’t remember the suicide prevention hotline number if I needed it myself or to give a person in need. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). A number that routes callers to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year. I don’t know how many 800 numbers you have memorized, but I can assure you that I can’t remember one.
Luckily, a three-digit suicide prevention hotline number will soon make seeking emergency mental health help more like calling 911, according to the FCC. When the months-long process is completed, U.S. residents will be able to call 988 for help in a mental health emergency, just as 911 connects people in need to first-responders for other emergencies.
“The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” said Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”