by California State PTA Health and Community Concerns Commission
A new nationwide hotline phone number, 988, will provide 24/7 free and confidential emotional support to those struggling with a mental health crisis. Promoted as an alternative to 911, 988 is specifically for people experiencing mental health emergencies.
Federal legislation established the 988 hotline. It also mandated the development of a strategy to provide specialized services for LGBTQ youth. Research shows these youth are more than four times more likely to contemplate suicide than their heterosexual peers. Officials say they hope the new shorter phone number will be easier for Americans to remember, allowing more people in crisis, including LGBTQ youth, in particular, to get the help they need.
Those experiencing a mental health crisis can call or text the three-digit number ― 988 ― to access the all-hours free and confidential emotional support hotline. Previously, those seeking support would have to call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). That number will remain in effect.
“When people call, text, or chat 988, they will connect to trained counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network,” the network’s website says. “These trained counselors will listen, provide support, and connect callers to resources if necessary.”
If you or someone you know needs help, dial 988 or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also get support via text by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.