As part of the Biden administration’s mental health strategy, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be switching to a new three-digit number: 988.
The new number will activate on Saturday.
To use the Veterans Crisis Line, which is linked to the former hotline, callers will have to dial 988 and press option 1.
The change comes with $432 million invested into scaling crisis center capacity and improving response rates. The hotline, now to be called the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, consists of a network of more than 200 state and local call centers subsidized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Safety Administration.
“Over time, the vision for 988 is to have additional crisis services available in communities across the country, much the way emergency medical services work. The success of 988 depends on our continued partnership with states,” SAMHSA chief Miriam Delphin-Rittmon said in a statement.
The 988 number was first proposed by staff at the Federal Communications Commission, with the simple logic that a three-digit number was easier to remember for callers. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that “this cross-government effort has been years in the making and comes at a crucial point to help address the mental health crisis in our country.”
In 2021, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received 3.6 million chats, texts and calls for help. The government expects that number to double within the first year of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.