People in Oregon and nationwide struggling with thoughts of suicide, substance abuse or other another mental health crisis will have a new way to quickly reach out for help starting Saturday.
The new 988 suicide and crisis hotline will allow people to call, text or chat online for help from trained crisis counselors. People can also call it if they have a loved one who may need help.
The number is a new, easier-to-remember way to contact the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
“Too many people in Oregon don’t have easy, quick access to the support and care they need when facing a mental health crisis,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen in a statement. “While fully implementing a transformative crisis care system will take time and further investments, the launch of 988 is a sound first step to connect more people in need with critical, life-saving care.”
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The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The call services will be available in both English and Spanish and will have interpretation services in more than 150 languages. Texting 988 or using the online chat at this link is only available in English.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline said 95% of the people reaching out do so by phone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published suicide mortality data in March showing that Oregon had the 13th highest suicide rate across all ages in 2020. That’s an improvement from 2019, when Oregon placed 9th in the U.S., but numbers still remain above the national average.
What do people need to know about calling 988?
- 988 will be available through every landline, cell phone and voice-over internet device in the United States, as well as text and chat.
- The current technology for 988 will route callers by area code, not geolocation.
- 988 is not currently available when phones are locked or do not have prepaid minutes.
- The transition to 988 will not impact the availability of crisis services for veterans and military service members. They can call 988 and press 1 to connect with the Veterans Crisis Line.
- For support in Spanish, callers can press 2 to connect with the Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio.
In Oregon, 988 is operated statewide by Lines for Life and by Northwest Human Services in Marion and Polk counties, OHA said.
OHA said the national hotline received 2.4 million calls in 2020 and it’s expected to go up significantly with the launch of 988.