Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States and it should come as no surprise that mental health issues are dire and that leaders have been trying to find ways to help people who feel that there is no way out other than to take their life.

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On January 1, 2005, the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration launched a national hotline for Americans in the midst of a crisis, and for 17 years, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has helped connect individuals with trained crisis professionals.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline has been an outlet for Americans to receive desperately needed life-saving and life-changing help and it is not going anywhere, but this summer there will be some changes to how people connect with the hotline.

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules which established 988 the new, nationwide, three-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to be connected with suicide prevention specialists through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

While the National Suicide Prevention Hotline has literally been a lifeline for Americans, the number has been hard for people to remember. Starting on July 16, 2022, anyone in distress can simply call or text 988 from any phone and they will instantly be connected to someone who can help.

In addition to being connected with a trained crisis professional, the hope is that eventually, the hotline will be able to dispatch specially trained professionals to the person contemplating taking their life rather than relying on the intervention of law enforcement.

Once launched, when someone calls 988, they will be dispatched to a crisis professional who is working out of a crisis center closest to the area where the phone of the caller is registered which means that each locality will need to have its own crisis center.

Kathy Hochul’s New York State budget includes financial support to implement the 988 Crisis Hotline in the state by allotting $35 million dollars to the Hotline in 2023 with an increase to $60 million dollars in 2024.

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