Mary-Kathryn Wert

Displayed throughout the school hallways and classrooms, the 988 suicide hotline reminds students that there is help if they are struggling with mental health. The national hotline is open 24/7 and connects callers to trained counselors.

Call Now: A three-digit code could save a person’s life

In August of 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed 988 as a number that is easy to remember for all people who are struggling with mental health. According to the FCC, 988 was created on July 16, 2020 as the national suicide crisis hotline. 

The hotline is open 24/7 and connects people to trained counselors. These counselors will listen to the caller, provide support, give their professional guidance and share helpful resources for the caller. If needed, counselors have the ability to connect them with further resources. 

For this national suicide hotline, the Biden-Harris administration has increased federal investments from $24 million to $432 million to enhance crisis centers, and provide special services like Spanish language speakers. 

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this number is for anyone feeling suicidal, misusing substances or facing immediate mental health issues. 

Prior to this, The National Suicide Prevention Hotline focused heavily on those with immediate suicidal thoughts rather than all those in distress. 

Now, anyone facing difficulties ranging from panic attacks to alcohol abuse have a three-digit phone number at the tips of their fingers. 

There are 200 call centers that are connected to the hotline. From August 2021 to August 2022, the average response time decreased from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 42 seconds. 

According to NPR, the number of people using the hotline has significantly increased since Aug. 2021. The number of calls had a 50% increase, texts had a 1000% increase and the online chats on the 988 website went up 195%.

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