STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) – Beginning Friday, July 16, a shorter version of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available for use.
The number 988 will be added as a direct link for suicide prevention and crisis support.
“It’s gonna provide easier access for those in a mental health crisis to be able to get in contact with somebody that they need,” Center for Community Resources Director for Programs Katie Doerr said. “We know 911 is a well-known number. It’s easy to dial and that’s the same thought process behind 988.”
The number provides 24/7 free and confidential emotional support for callers. Doerr said the addition of 988 does not mean the current number is going away. The current number is 1-800-273-8255.
“It will be pointed, in the tech world as it’s called, to 988,” Doerr said. “So if somebody dials the old number, the old, old number or 988, it will all come to the same location.”
According to CDC data, Pennsylvania’s suicide rate was 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people. That number is below the national average of 13.5. Even with these numbers, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Press Secretary, Brandon Cwalina, said there is still work to be done to let more people know that help is available.
“We’ve seen a bit of an increase in suicide rates among young Black women, so we know we have some work to do in getting the word out that help is available,” Cwalina said.
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A text and chat function will also be made available on Saturday, July 16.
“Regardless of how you need the help, you can call, you can text, help is available either way,” Cwalina said.