The Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s new three-digit dialing code will go live nationwide on July 16. People experiencing a mental health crisis will be able to call 988 and connect to counselors with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. Advocates believe that designating a three-digit telephone number will transform access to mental health care. The three-digit number is easy to remember, which should make it faster for Americans dealing with a mental health crisis to receive life-saving support.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network consists of more than 200 crisis centers nationwide. Veterans experiencing distress or a mental health crisis will now be able connect to the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 then pressing 1. This will provide veterans with fast and easy access to veteran-specific mental health support.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, nearly 46,000 Americans — including over 6,000 veterans — died by suicide in 2019. The American Legion supported the legislation designating 988 as the universal telephone number of the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system through Resolution No. 377: Support for Veteran Quality of Life.
The current suicide prevention lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available after the launch of 988.