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About 988 Hotline

About 988 Hotline

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The suicide crisis hotline was launched in the United States recently. It is a three digit number - 988 to ensure  easy access for those in need of assistance. Historically, when there are mental needs that need attention, police officers are dispatched to respond to citizens. With the new hotline, their call will be  received by trained professionals - mental health experts. 

Since January 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration has made unprecedented investments to support the 988 transition, investing $432 million to scale crisis center capacity and ensure all Americans have access to help during mental health crises,” SAMHSA said.

In the recent data gathered by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 12th most common cause of death in the country. As of 2020, there are 1.20 million suicide attempts and 45,979 suicide cases, where around 69.68% of the case is with white males and 52.83% used firearms.

Although a lot of concerns were expressed regarding its launch, such as the overwhelming volume of calls given it’s a three digit number that is more accessible or easier to dial, there are also staffing challenges that need to be addressed. Despite these, the launch pushed  through to start providing services to the community. And based on the responses online, it seems it has the support of the people as there has been a lot of promotion and encouragement posted online.

"Raising awareness about 988 will be crucial in determining how quickly it becomes the default for mental health crisis response rather than the 911 emergency system." said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.