'988,' the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, launches Saturday. Here's how it works

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AUSTIN, Texas — Starting Saturday, July 16, anyone in the U.S. can reach trained mental health professionals by calling or texting 988. That three-digit number will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The existing hotline number is 1-800-273-8255, and it will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally.
KVUE spoke with Integral Care, Travis County’s mental health authority, which has been a part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for about 10 years. It is one of over 200 crisis centers that answer the calls the lifeline receives every day. 
“We can get calls from anywhere of somebody saying, ‘I’m having some relationship stress,'” said Nicole Warren, an Integral Care practice administrator. “‘I’m feeling really lonely or isolated. I’m feeling sad.'”
Warren said Integral Care covers over 70 counties in Texas. 
“We can help people even if they call us from outside of our area,” she said. “We can still answer that call. And what we can do is, we can always do a warm transfer too, which means making sure that they’re another human, that they’re connected with another person, not just like a recording or something like that.”
Every month, Integral Care takes about 5,000 to 6,000 calls. Warren hopes people continue to use the lifeline as a tool to get better because mental health is just as important as physical health.
“It’s just such an integral part, such an important part of our health in general,” she said. “All of us experience sadness at times. All of us experience anxiety. And it’s, you know, we can go into crisis.”
People in crisis aren’t the only ones who can call the lifeline. If you’re concerned about a family member or friend, you can also call 988 starting Saturday. Mental health providers can tell you how to best handle the situation, or they can even give your friend or family member a call.
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