Huge news! Three digits, 988, will soon be the suicide prevention hotline's phone number

I just heard groundbreaking news for the mental health community!!

Federal regulators unanimously approved the proposal for a three-digit national suicide prevention number – 988! It will probably take a few months for it to be finalized but oh I am so happy!

This is huge and is going to save so many lives. Just as 911 connects people to first-responders, calling 988 will connect people with the help needed for a mental health emergency.

I don't know about you but, despite the fact that I've shared the number countless times and that there is even a song title with the number in it, I cannot memorize the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) to save my life. And, the thing is, being able to memorize the number, well, the purpose is to save lives.

988, well, that number I've already memorized and I've only heard of it for a couple minutes. The first number is obviously the same as 911. The second two numbers are the same number, which also happens to be the year I was born. Done. Forever ingrained in my brain.

This is crucial because, knowing what it feels like to have suicidal thoughts, I know that you're not in your right mind at the time. You're in a dark place, and you're not thinking about anything else except wanting the pain to stop. If, at that time, you decided to reach out for help, getting that help needs to be easy, and that the extra step of Googling the phone number could deter someone in crisis.

Often times, it's a split second decision to harm oneself. With the creation of this simple number, I'm hoping it will encourage people to impulsively dial it instead of impulsively end their lives.

“The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, told USA Today. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency."

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