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Individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues can call a new three-digit hotline, 988, to get help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was previously reachable through the 10-digit phone number 1-800-273-TALK, which will still be operational as 988 rolls out, but the three-digit number is meant to help people "better remember and more easily dial" the number to seek help, according to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Project Director John Draper, Ph.D.
"This is a service of over 200 local centers across the country who have been doing this work for years, so what we're talking about, essentially, is a new number but not a new service…that has been proven to reduce emotional distress and suicidality for the people that reach [out]," Draper explained in an interview with Fox News Digital.
In 2021, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reached 3.6 million people, and Draper expects the new three-digit lifeline to see even more activity.
The hotline is connected to more than 200 local centers that answer emergency mental health calls, but if the people staffing those hotlines cannot pick up a call, it is transferred over to a "national backup center" to ensure all callers get help. Counselors finish a standard online training course before they pick up phone calls.