Starting Saturday, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will change from a 10-digit number to just three digits – 988.
Proponents say the number — which can be used in place of the current 800-273-TALK — will be easier to remember or dial in a crisis. They also hope it improves access to services, decreases unnecessary interactions with the police and saves lives.
Callers will be connected to a trained counselor and receive counseling, resources or referrals. Mobile units may be dispatched in some cases, where available.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay will be taking the calls in Hillsborough and Charlotte counties.
Spokesman Ken Gibson said the center’s staff receives about six weeks of training to effectively help people in distress. He says the center was already taking calls when people dialed the old lifeline number, which will still work.