(WFRV) – Starting on Saturday, people in a mental health crisis will now have a new way to reach out for help. Instead of dialing the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), those in need can simply call or text 988.
Modeled after 911, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that will connect people who are in a mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.
“988 is a national initiative but for people who call in Wisconsin, their phone call will go to the Wisconsin Lifeline, which is our local call center,” said Crehan Neumann, Crisis Services Coordinator with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The new number is meant to make it easier for people to call for help. Many people end up calling 911 during a mental health crisis, which 911 wasn’t set up to address mental health needs. More often than not, those calling 911 end up in an emergency room or with interacting with law enforcement which can lead to tragedy or trauma.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will connect people to the existing network of more than 200 local crisis call centers around the country. The ten-digit number will remain active, but calls are expected to be rerouted to 988.
“The projection reports were seeing a 93% increase in report of calls over the first year with the new number. The projection also reports an increase in texts and chats with the new number as well,” added Neumann.
For more information about the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline, you can visit its website here.