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New 988 mental health hotline goes live across the country

A new three-digit number has gone live nationwide to help prevent suicides.

News 12 Staff

Jul 16, 2022, 9:20 PM

Updated 708 days ago


A new three-digit number has gone live nationwide to help prevent suicides.
“When people dial 988, they’re not going to get emergency help dispatched to them – they’re going to get a caring compassionate counselor,” says Theresa Buhse, of the Long Island Crisis Center.
Buhse and her volunteer counselors at the Long Island Crisis Center take more than 16,000 calls each year. Some of them are suicide calls, some are mental health calls and others are looking for mental health resources.
Buhse says the new 988 number will be much easier for people to remember than the previous 1-800 number.
Christopher Coluccio lost his 14-year-old son around a year ago when he committed suicide. He says his son was struggling with depression and other issues.
Coluccio hopes the simpler number will aid young people who are seeking help.
“All off this for us is to bring awareness, let people know that they’re not alone and that there are people out there helping,” Coluccio says.
The new 988 number is anonymous and accepts text messages, which Buhse says could be even more appealing to some.
“So a lot of younger people really prefer that feature because they particularly don’t like to talk on the phone,” Buhse says.
The Long Island Crisis Center says it expects the new number will encourage more people to call, so they are planning on adding staff when and if call volume increases.

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