988 is the new active Suicide Hotline number across the United States. This shortened number is now easier to remember and no longer conflicts with the popular 911 number by separating mental health issues from other emergencies. 

Mental health has been at an exponential rise following COVID-19. Specifically, the World Health Organization includes that “COVID-19 pandemic triggers a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.” With an increase of depression, follows an increase in the need for a system to be in place for people who cry out for help.

In the past, teens, adults, and even children have turned to the only number they were actually taught for help: 911.

911, a number known by everyone, helps with fires, emergencies, robberies, etc. Why is there an issue with people calling 911 when struggling with thoughts of suicide? Isn’t that an emergency?

To answer that question, it is an emergency and that is why it is changing.

Let’s say you hear someone say the number 1-800-273-8255 what do you think of?

Probably the rap song by LOGIC.

That is absolutely what I think of and I’m not afraid to admit that. Besides being a rap song, that was the old Suicide Prevention Hotline number. That number became forgotten or difficult to access in a time of crisis which likely cost people’s lives.

NPR News reports that “The Federal Communications Commission’s Staff of Congress (FCC) has been pressing the need for the number to switch since 2019”.

Staff fought that “Too many people experience suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need. There are urgent mental health realities driving the need for crisis service transformation across our country”. 

It is sad to think that death by NPR reports “suicide lead 2020 in leading causes of death. 1 death by suicide every 11 minutes”.

Many of these deaths were children between the ages of 10-13.

As of July of 2022, the Suicide Hotline number was officially changed from 1-800-273-8255 to 988. Both the old number and the new number connect to the same hotline and will give 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It is a faster connection service than 911.