Persons experiencing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress can soon find help more readily at their fingertips, thanks to a change to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number.
Callers will no longer need to dial all ten digits; instead, they will only need to dial 988 starting July 16, according to KXAN. Those in emotional distress or suicidal crisis can either call, text, or chat to connect with trained counselors from the organization. Free, confidential support is available 24/7. The number also offers resources to veterans and active-duty members in crisis situations.
However, those who already have the current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) saved in their phone can still use it even after 988 is launched nationally.
Elizabeth Timmons, the Director of Clinical Services at The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network , claims the need for this Lifeline service is needed more than ever, as indicated by the COVID-19 death rates and increased substance abuse cases.
“It’s not any of us who can say we came out of this without any problems at all,” said Timmons. “Because I think we’ve all been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and just being a part of that situation.”
Timmons stated that conversations surrounding suicide should be normal, and people should not hesitate to ask questions. “I think a lot of times people think if they ask people about suicide, then that will put the thought in their head that that’s something that they should do, and that is not the case ever,” said Timmons.
The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network team hopes the new National Crisis Hotline number, 988, which is easy to remember and similar to 911, will make difficult conversations about suicide easier to hold.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline new number, according to Timmons, supports their mission to have zero suicides across Texas.