Beginning Saturday July 16th, "988" will be a new number available to callers in the United States who are experiencing suicidal crises or emotional distress. Folks in need of care will be able to call, text or chat the simplified number and get access to trained counselors who are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network.
The existing number, 1-800-273-8255 will continue to remain available to callers in the same way it has been, but 988 gives a quicker, more memorable option to help those experiencing crisis more quickly. In recent years, outreach to make people aware of the longer 800 number and the network in general was prevalent as people became more open about their own journeys combating mental health challenges.
Rapper Logic's song featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, 800-273-8255 climbed the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 2017 and a study noted in the British Medical Journal linked it and live performances of it (including at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards) to increased calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network.
However, a survey done by the nonprofit research organization RAND Corporation notes that many local communities may not be prepared for the increase in call volume to the new number. SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is asking for "empathetic volunteers, employees, and interns to serve as crisis counselors answering phone, chats and texts, as well as managers with advanced degrees."
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you're having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 (or 988 beginning 7/16/22) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.