Suicide prevention hotline changes to three digit number

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Saturday is a big day for mental health nationwide as the Suicide Prevention Hotline changes from ten digits to three.

Designed to be used like 911, dialing 988 will connect you with help.

Just three digits, being able to dial 988 instead of a ten digit number to reach the suicide and crisis hotline can save a life according to experts.

“And the truth is if someone’s going through a mental health crisis, remembering where they placed that number trying to recall it can be very difficult,” clinical social worker, Laura Julius said.

3.6 million people called the ten digit hotline in 2021, according to US Health and Human Services.

Clinical social worker Julius thinks, with 988, that number will increase tremendously.

“Think of how many people who are actually going to reach out and receive services when they actually can recall the number and then have reached the support that they need,” Julius said.

You’ll be connected to a someone local who can help and if the line is busy, you’ll be connected to someone nationwide. Julius says people in need can text the number as well.

“Whether it’s like here’s a place that provides free or cost affective counseling or here’s a support program or here’s a recovery place that’s taking folks or stay right there we’re sending help to you right now,” Julius said.

Julius also believes less people will come to the emergency room because of 988.

“A mental health disorder will make you feel that way but if it’s not a life threatening emergency that needs to be stabilization by the hospital, you’re going to be sent out the door and unfortunately that create for someone feeling there’s a stigma, they’re not being supported when the truth is it’s not the right level of care,” Julius said.

She encourages people to spread the word about 988.

“I’m really feeling like it’s going to be life changing for folks,” Julius said.

A big step for mental health all over the nation.

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