The Louisiana Department of Health launched the new three-digit number to replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline aims to provide ease for people needing assistance during a mental health crisis.
Now, 988 will be a trusted resource for those dealing with all mental health challenges ranging from suicidal thoughts to substance abuse. Someone can also call 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need immediate crisis support.
When you call the number, you are connected with trained crisis counselors who will provide support and connect the caller with local resources, according to the LDH. There is a chat feature that is available through the lifeline’s website.
All calls are confidential and the service is provided 24/7 free of charge.
“It is so important that we have resources in place to help people when they need it most and having a lifeline like this is vital,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Tragically, Louisiana experienced more than 600 suicides in 2020 and nationally there is a death by suicide every 11 minutes. This is a serious problem.”
According to LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips, one in five people over age 12 has a mental health condition in the United States.
“If you need help, know that you are not alone. It’s OK to not be OK,” she said. “Mental health impacts everyone and we need to make sure those who need help have access to it. This important initiative will make it easier for more residents to access critical mental health services when they need it most. A year in the making, Louisiana stands ready to join the nation for this launch.”
According to the CDC, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 and the third leading cause in people ages 15-24 in 2020.