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Government Turns To Three-Digit Lifeline To Cut Suicide Rates

With suicides on the rise, the government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to use. A proposed three-digit number — 988 — will replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
NPR
The government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to use. A three-digit number — 988 — will replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In an emergency, Americans know to dial 911. Beginning July 16, people can dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

West Virginia is one of 54 states and territories to receive federal dollars to help with the transition.

According to a Kaiser Report, suicide death rates increased by almost 40 percent in West Virginia between 2010 to 2020, the third highest in the nation. West Virginia’s single call center includes the Veterans Crisis Line.

West Virginians who need support can still call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), but this number will eventually be phased out. On Saturday, the state switches to 988.

Nationally, the number of calls is expected to triple in the first year alone.

This switch to a national call center is being funded by the federal government, but experts are concerned that the funds will fall short to prepare centers for the expected volume of callers.

Southern W.Va. Bureau Chief, Reporter/Producer, jlilly@wvpublic.org, 304-384-5981, @JessicaYLilly

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