988 Suicide & Crisis Line launches tomorrow

General business

The new number will connect to the National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention; Will be available 24/7/365 for calls, texts and chat

Starting tomorrow, New Jerseyans will be able to use the new three-digit number 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Number 988 will be available for anyone having suicidal thoughts or a mental health or addiction crisis.

988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code for the existing National Lifeline for Suicide Prevention in 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission.

To support 988, New Jersey’s fiscal year 2023 budget recently signed by Governor Phil Murphy includes nearly $29 million for hotline infrastructure and services that some callers can be connected to after they call. . The goal of 988 is to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets the nation’s growing needs for suicide and mental health-related crisis care.

For people aged 10 to 34, suicide is the leading cause of death. In 2020 alone, the United States recorded one suicide death approximately every 11 minutes. Additionally, from April 2020 to 2021, more than 100,000 people have died from drug overdoses. In New Jersey, 778 lives have been lost to suicide and 239,000 adults have had suicidal thoughts in the past year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to NAMI, more than one million New Jersey adults have a mental health condition, while 72,000 New Jerseyans between the ages of 12 and 17 suffer from depression. According to NAMI, 61.4 percent of New Jersey residents ages 12 to 17 who suffer from depression have not received any care in the past year.

“We are excited about the rollout of 988 in New Jersey and across the country. Its launch marks an important step in rapid access to mental health services and we believe 988 can help save lives,” said Social Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “988 is more than just an easy-to-remember number. It will be a direct link to accessible and compassionate support and resources, available 24/7, for anyone experiencing psychiatric or emotional distress or for those concerned for a loved one. Anyone going through a mental health crisis will only need to remember these three numbers to contact qualified counselors who can help.

988 will be available to call, text or chat on July 16 for those experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis, or those looking to help a loved one through a crisis. The existing Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will also continue to be available.

By dialing 988, you will have easier access to the Lifeline network, a national network of more than 200 independent local crisis centres. Some callers may be connected to services or other resource lines depending on their needs.

Rutgers University’s National Behavioral Health Care Call Center is one of 12 national rescue centers that will triage overflow calls made to 988.

988, like Lifeline’s current number, will provide live crisis center call services in English and Spanish and will use Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages. At this time, text and chat features are only available in English.

“The transition to 988 will help expand access to essential mental health services and ensure that we connect those in distress with the most appropriate assistance,” said Valerie Mielke, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Mental Health Services. Mental Health and Addictions Department. “We know Lifeline makes a difference, and with a number that’s easier to call, text or chat with, we hope more people in need of help for themselves or loved ones will seek help.”

For more information on 988, visit here.

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