The new 988 suicide prevention line comes into effect on Saturday. Here’s What You Need to Know – NBC Chicago

The new 9-8-8 mental health crisis number officially launched in the United States on Saturday, including in Illinois, where increased funding should ensure calls are answered by state personnel.

From Saturday, people in mental health crisis or emotional distress will be able to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by texting or calling 9-8-8.

Here’s what you need to know:

How does the call work?

At the start of the call, people are given a choice between a veterans’ crisis line or a Spanish-language crisis line, according to the Illinois Department of Social Services.

If a caller with an Illinois area code selects neither option, they will be connected to an Illinois Life Line call center, the department said on the website. If the call is not answered by a live person after three minutes, the caller will be routed to the NSPL relief affiliate network or to someone in another state.

Is support free? When can you call?

Support is completely free, confidential and available 24/7.

Those not in an immediate crisis, but seeking treatment options for mental health issues, can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), according to state officials.

The Illinois Warm Line is also available at 1-866-359-7953 for free emotional support, recovery education, self-advocacy support, and referrals. Open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., it is not a crisis line, but rather works with people to address mental health and wellbeing.

How is Illinois different from other states?

According to a news release, Illinois staffing levels have been increased at all six existing Illinois 9-8-8 call centers in anticipation of the number change, giving residents reassurance that calls will be answered. quickly and sensitively.

“Thanks to the many incredible advisors who have answered the call to serve those in crisis, the expanded 988 Lifeline number will help save many lives,” Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement. “To any Illinois resident who may be in trouble, please know that you “We are not alone. We are here to help you. You can receive help by dialing or texting 988.”

Illinois officials say they are working to fulfill the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s mandate to give those experiencing mental health crises “someone to call, someone to answer and a place to go”.

Illinois health officials said they have committed nearly $15 million to efforts to increase staffing at 988 crisis response centers. You can learn more about resources available to in-state residents by visiting Illinois’ 988 information website.

How will this change make a difference?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In 2020, nearly 46,000 people died by suicide; that’s one death every 11 minutes. The new three-digit dialing code is meant to be easier to access and remember than the 1-800-SUICIDE number, according to the 988 messaging website.

NBC Chicago

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