You'll Soon Be Able to Dial 988 During a Mental Health Crisis

Marty Munson
Photo credit: damircudic - Getty Images
Photo credit: damircudic - Getty Images

From Men's Health

When you or someone you know is in crisis, the number 1-800-273-8255—the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—is a lot to remember.

So the FCC just designated the 3-digit number 988 for that hotline. The goal is for callers to be able to begin using it by July 2022. The Lifeline is a hotline that’s staffed 24/7 by trained volunteers who offer confidential support to people in crisis or emotional distress.

Suicide rates are climbing

This is at a time when there’s increasing awareness around mental wellness and acute awareness of the increase in suicides: The overall suicide rate in the US has increased 31 percent since 2001. It’s currently the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). And three-quarters of the people who die this way are men.

The pandemic has increased calls to disaster and distress hotlines around the country. The Crisis Text Line says text volume climbed 40 percent during the pandemic, according to National Public Radio.

Which numbers to dial or text

Note that the 988 number is not active yet. Until it is next year, use these numbers:

  • Call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Text 741741 for Crisis Text Line, where you can text a crisis counselor 24/7

You can also use these numbers if you think someone around you is at risk of suicide. If you’re interested in what you can do to help lower suicide numbers, find out what the Mental Health First Aid program is all about, and how it can help you be more comfortable talking about mental health with others.

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