The new mental health crisis number 988 will officially launch this Saturday, and Illinois officials say that increased funding will allow them to ensure that calls are answered by in-state personnel.
Accordng to a press release, staffing has been increased at Illinois' six existing 988 call centers in anticiptation of the number change, giving residents assurances that calls will be answered in a timely and sensitive manner.
Thanks to the many incredible counselors answering the call to serve those in crisis, the expanded 988 Lifeline number will help save many lives,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “To any Illinois resident who might be struggling, know that you are not alone. We are here to support you. You can receive help by dialing or texting 988.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a leading cause 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 intended to be easier to access and remember than the 1-800-SUICIDE number, according to the 988 messaging website.
Illinois officials say that they are working to fulfill the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminisration's mandate to give those experiencing mental health crises "someone to call, someone to respond, and somewhere to go."
Beginning Saturday, individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress will be able to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by texting or calling 988.
Those who are not in an immediate crisis, but are seeking treatment options for mental health conditions, can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), according to state officials.
Illinois health officials say they have committed nearly $15 million to efforts to increase staffing at 988 crisis response centers. You can learn more about resources available to state residents by visiting Illinois' 988 informational website.