New law to make three-digit suicide hotline universal

National

WYNANTSKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — President Donald Trump signed a non-partisan bill on Saturday to combat rampant suicide in the United States. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act will make 988 the universal phone number for a mental health crisis.

Some mental health professionals believe the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number may be too difficult to remember when overwhelmed.

“We know that dialing an eight or nine-digit number is just something that may not come to someone when their mind is so precluded,” John Cooney, Mental Health Awareness Instructor at Healthy Mind Consulting said. “Just a simple 988 to the phone, and they will immediately get a trained suicide prevention counselor.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS Leading Causes of Death reports from 2018.

Cooney hopes 988 will be a stepping stone in de-stigmatizing mental health issues on a national level.

“With times being as tough as they are, 988 will hopefully bring itself to be something more of a conversation piece,” Cooney said. “We need people to easily be able to say to each other, why don’t you try that 988 thing we saw on the news the other night.”

The three-digit number won’t be available until July 2022. Until then, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is still there for those in need at 1-800-273-TALK.

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