New Suicide Prevention Lifeline Hotline

Learn more about Christopher Vidaurre.
Christopher Vidaurre
Senior Program Manager, Veterans and Military Families
George W. Bush Institute

Immediate help is now available with a new three-digit number for those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mental health care just became a bit more accessible with the release of a new hotline number: 988. The number is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network — and anyone can call, text or chat at the number. Dialing the number connects the person experiencing a mental health crisis with a trained professional. 

A Veteran Specific Extension – pressing 1 – is also available for the military connected community.  

Prior to the 988 number:

  • Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis would call 911, a service not equipped to handle these requests, or remember a 10-digit number.
  • Veterans would also have to remember a 10-digit number and wait to seek care 

Why it matters: In 2020, The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law with bipartisan support authorizing the 988 number. The act was a joint effort by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The government’s investment is an improvement in destigmatizing mental health. 

Bottom line: This is a step forward in the mental health space, but the country still has a long way to go in increasing accessibility to care and getting rid of the stigma in seeking care for mental health.