Federal regulators are set to establish a new three-digit number to serve as a suicide prevention hotline in order to make it easier for those struggling with their mental health to seek help. According to the Associated Press, people can call 988 to find mental health services—rather than calling 911 for emergency services or 311 for city services. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a regular 10-digit number. Counselors on the hotline reportedly answered 2.2 million calls in 2018. The shorter number could lead to more calls, and the Federal Communications Commission suggested the centers would need another $50 million per year to handle the influx. However, diverting calls from 911 could reportedly save costs by avoiding the dispatch of emergency services—which costs thousands of dollars. The 988 number won't be available by text, but people can seek help through nonprofit Lines for Life by texting 273TALK to 839863.
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