Massachusetts Prepares To Launch '988' Crisis Lifeline

Dianna Carney

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Starting Saturday, July 16, 2022 the new three-digit code 988 will take effect, routing callers to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

This phone line will be available 24/7, 365 days a year. Trained counselors, who are not clinicians, are available to provide free, confidential emotional support for those in distress. This comes two years after Congress designated the dialing code in response to the growing mental health crisis among Americans.

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Mental Health By The NumbersMental Health America (MHA)

Switching to a three-digit number instead of a ten-digit one benefits the caller who might be struggling with emotional distress. This makes it easier for anyone in America who finds themselves or a loved one experiencing a mental health crisis to reach for help. The Lifeline 988 program hopes to decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues.

According to mass.gov,

Much like the use of 911 for emergency response, calling 988 will deliver a full range of crisis care services, essential to meeting behavioral health crisis needs across the nation.

Massachusetts has been working to transition from the current 10-digit number (1-800-273-8255) to the new three-digit one. They hope that as this easy-to-remember number expands access for callers, more job opportunities will be created. These job opportunities include paid positions, internships, and volunteer roles. Massachusetts states that "extensive training and supervision are provided, and remote opportunities are available."

Since 2008, suicide has ranked as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. According to Massachusetts,

The adoption of the new three-digit number reflects a commitment to delivering necessary intervention services.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, an online chat function has been made available as well as TTY users may use their preferred really service or dial.

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If you or anyone you know is struggling please reach out for help. You can contact the following resources for help:

National Sexual Assault Hotline
(800) 656-4673

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline
(800) 662-4357

Veterans Crisis Line
(800) 273-8255, PRESS 1
Text 838255
Chat online

CDC National HIV and AIDS Hotline
(800) 232-4636

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
(800) 422-4453

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Writing about local news stories, community events, and trending topics within Massachusetts. Submit stories/tips directly to me by emailing dianna@diannacarney.com

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