Contributing author: Sue Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.
We all know that dialing 911 can be a lifesaver, and now, so can calling 988. This new three-digit dialing code became active on July 16, 2022, and is a lifeline for those contemplating suicide.
The counselors who respond to the calls, texts and chats provide caring support and guidance to those in crisis. Many studies have shown that after calling for help, people tend to feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful.
Previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, it’s now the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. However, the previous number – 800-273-8255 – is still in use as well. The Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers has been operating since 2005, and in its years of existence, has received over 20 million calls from those in distress.
The 988 number can be dialed from any state in the country and is accessible for non-English speakers and for those who are deaf. Veterans can also use this new option to contact the Veterans Crisis Line. All they have to do is dial 988 and then choose the number 1. The previous number – 800-273-8255 – is also still active.
Veterans can also connect through text at 838255, and through chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. According to the Military Veteran Project, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
With COVID-19 exacerbating mental health issues, this easy-to-remember hotline number is more important than ever. According to the Lifeline website, “Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people, and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the tenth-leading cause of death in the nation (CDC, 2019). Every year in the U.S., more people die by suicide than in car accidents, and more suicide deaths occur than homicide and AIDS deaths combined.”
To learn more, go to https://988lifeline.org/current-events/the-lifeline-and-988/. To find information about the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, or to become a member, go to www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com.
Written for local press outlets in New Jersey.
One thought on “Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is getting the word out about the 988 hotline”
This is a very informative article. I believe it’s good that people who are in that situation will have a few choices on who they can call..