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New Suicide and Behavioral Health Crisis Line number to debut July 16

A new three-digit number will be going live starting July 16 for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis.

The number, 988, was designed to be the equivalent of “911” but for mental health emergencies. Now, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) is referring to the new number as the Suicide and Behavioral Health Crisis Line.

While 988 is a nationwide number, any call made to the line is routed to the nearest lifeline center from the location of the caller. Therefore, a call from a Mississippian will be directed to a Mississippi lifeline center.

Suicide prevention may be the focal point around the new number, but the MDMH emphasizes that the lifeline is inclusive for any individual dealing with a mental health crisis.

“It has been promoted as a suicide prevention lifeline, but moving forward, it’s going to be promoted as a suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis line,” said DMH Chief of Staff Katie Storr in an interview on Good Things with Rebecca Turner. “So families can call when they’re concerned about a loved one. Maybe someone has a history of mental illness and they’re seeing behavior changes, and that person is in a crisis at that moment and they need help. They will be able to call 988.”

In addition, those who dial the lifeline will be sent to a trained counselor who has met the standards set by the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The DMH is also working to add a chat feature for those who would rather communicate by means of text messaging.

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