LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — From 10 digits to 3, the National Suicide Prevention and Crisis Lifeline can be accessed just like 911.
According to the Crisis Support Services of Nevada (CSSNV), since 1999 suicide rates have risen 30 percent across the nation. The organization says they took 87,000 crisis calls in 2021.
This new shorter number provides a direct line to trained counselors available to assist callers quickly, or send trained counselors to them if needed, and avoid using services like 911 if possible.
CSSNV executive director Rachelle L. Pellissier told us, "I barely remember that 10 digit number and I work in this field. So to think that someone in a crisis can remember a 10 digit 800 number to get the help they need is silly. But most people can remember 988."
The change has been in the works for a long time. Legislation for 988 in Nevada was passed in May 2021 and signed by the Governor.
The new 988 number goes into effect Saturday. The current 1-800 suicide prevention number will remain in use until all states across the country switch over to the new system.
"It's like when we think of the iPhone 1. Where are we at now? Like iPhone 13 or 14. We couldn't have found what improvements needed to be made until we created the product, had it out there and find solutions and figure it out as we go along," says NAMI Southern Nevada executive director, Trinh Dang.
It's not just for those in a crisis. 988 will also be available for people to call if they are concerned for someone else who may need help.
On 7/16, 988 will be a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the U.S., you can easily access 24/7 emotional support. In the meantime, please cont. to share 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected w/ a trained, caring counselor. We're here for you. #988Lifeline pic.twitter.com/B7n7I8F2AI
— 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (@988Lifeline) July 13, 2022