New 988 suicide prevention hotline launches nationwide this weekend

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As soon as Saturday, people having a mental health crisis will be able to dial a three-digit number for help nationwide.
This is in place of the current ten digit suicide prevention hotline.
First Coast News spoke with a local mental health alliance group about what this means.
Saturday and beyond, if you dial 988, you’ll be connected with trained mental health professionals like the ones from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Jacksonville.
“Here in Northeast Florida, we have been working along with other community partners, we have been working to build the system’s local capacity and we will continue to do that,” said Suzanne Mailloux, NAMI Jacksonville.
Lawmakers see the new number as a way to make mental health care easily accessible.
Schools in South Carolina are even putting the new number on student agendas.
RELATED: Yes, the suicide prevention lifeline is changing to 988, but the old number will still work
“People will know it and that’s exciting to think that the stigma might wash away as well,” said Mailloux, NAMI.
Counselors say there may also be some challenges with the new number and access to agents. If a local agency gets too many calls, the calls may get re-routed to non-local backup centers.
“It’s a really exciting time for our nation, but we do need everyone to continue advocating and acting for greater resources in our community,” said Mailloux.
This could be the start to something new in mental health advocacy, but providers feel there’s still a long way to go.
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