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States set to launch new suicide hotline, 9-8-8

Suicide Prevention Hotline New Number
In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. With suicides on the rise, the government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach. Once implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help. Currently, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

(FLORIDA) — States across the country, including Florida, are preparing to launch the new mental health hotline on Saturday.   The number to dial for the new suicide prevention hotline is 988.  It’s similar to how people can call 911 for medical emergencies.

No more than half of states have enacted or introduced legislation in preparation for 988’s debut, scheduled for July 16, according to data from the National Academy for State Health Policy.
“Beginning July 16 of this year, all 988 calls will be routed to the national suicide hotline, so there isn’t a need for state legislation to make that critical step happen,” Jodi Manz, project director of behavioral health, aging and disability at the health policy group, wrote in an email Tuesday. “State legislation is more about how to fund and organize this work within existing mental health systems, and imposing telecoms fees may not be ideal or well received in some states, so there is likely continuing conversation where that is the case.”
At least 11 states including Florida have introduced new or additional legislation, according to data from the group.

suicide hotline

It’s not only a very easy to remember number for distressed people to call and ask for help, but it’s also going to be localized on a state by state basis, so the people of Florida are going to responding to people in Florida.

A new three-digit national suicide prevention and mental health hotline — 988 — debuts Saturday…

Why it matters: America is struggling with a mental health crisis and it’ll be easier to call or text for help with a 911-style hotline…

The big picture: In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission designated 988 as the new emergency service to connect with either the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or Veterans Crisis Line by July 2022…

By the numbers: An estimated 11.4 million adults have serious suicidal thoughts, according to a 2022 State of Mental Health Report from Mental Health America. That’s up 664,000 from last year’s data.

The benefit is that those crisis responders know the culture and the available resources.

Meanwhile, it is not clear what will happen to the Palm Beach county and Treasure Coast’s 211 HelpLine that provides crisis intervention and connects people to health, mental health, and wellness services 24 hours a day every day.