New, shorter suicide hotline number starts Saturday

The national suicide hotline gets a new and shorter phone number starting tomorrow. Mental health officials think this will allow them to provide assistance to more people.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The national suicide hotline will have a shorter phone number starting Saturday. Mental health officials said this will allow them to help more people.

The hotline will keep its 1-800-273-TALK number and will add a three-digit number for people to call: 9-8-8.

People who need immediate help can either dial that number, text it or use it to chat with trained counselors at any time.

Counselors hope this new number allows them to reach more people at a faster rate. They add that one out of every six callers hangs up before talking to anyone with the hotline.

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The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration logged calls last year from every call center. It found more than 3.6 million calls, texts or chats were answered. The agency expects to see another 7.6 million this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone died by suicide every 11 minutes last year.

According to the United Service Organizations, more than 6,000 U.S. military veterans die by suicide each year.

The phone number change is part of a $400 million federal grant to expand mental health services.

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