ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — New Yorkers in moments of crisis now have an additional resource: a three-digit suicide hotline, available by a call or text to 988.
Residents of all 62 counties are covered, meaning that anyone with a New York Area code will be connected to one of New York’s 13 crisis centers through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“By implementing 988, we are providing these individuals, as well as their families and friends, an easy-to-remember number that will give them access to the services they need,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.
The line is meant to provide “compassionate, accessible care and support,” according to officials from the Governor’s office, reducing the strain on law enforcement to respond to these calls. Callers will be put in direct contact with a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs, as well as provide assistance in seeking long-term care.
A chat feature will also be available through the Lifeline’s website at 988lifeline.org.
The federal Communications Commission designated 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in October 2020. Phone service providers were given until July 16, 2022 to transition to the 988 number.
Between the lifeline’s founding in 2005 and 2020, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received a total of 20,478,698 calls.
In 2019, the NSPL received 137,481 calls originating from New York, a 73 percent increase since 2016. In 2020, NYS received 142,827 calls, a 13 percent increase in just one year.
The call volume is expected to continue to increase over the next five years, according to the Governor’s office.
“It is incumbent upon us as New Yorkers to provide those among us who are struggling with mental health issues with the help they need, when they need it,” Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said. “Crisis don’t only happen during business hours, so implementing this lifeline, which is available any time of the day or night, will help save lives.”