The coronavirus pandemic, soaring inflation, gun violence, and a host of other deeply troubling issues face our society today leading to a significant spike in reported cases of anxiety, depression, and suicides. Beginning July 16, 2022, 988 will be an active code that people across the United States can use to call, text, or chat with a trained counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network.
Using 988 to access support, talk through problems, and connect with additional resources if necessary, it is hoped that more people will recover from a crisis. According to Suicide Prevention Lifeline literature, studies have found that people who call a distress hotline feel less suicidal, depressed, and overwhelmed after speaking with a counselor. Crisis center callers also report feeling more hopeful after talking with a trained counselor.
Because many older adults, especially men, are hesitant to seek out mental health counseling or talk with their doctors about depression or suicidal thoughts, the 988 crisis code will provide access to care and support at home. Depression and suicidal ideation are especially prevalent among older adults who are single, widowed, living alone, have underlying physical or mental disorders, and seniors who are socially isolated.
Canada has also passed a motion to establish 988 as a crisis code that would eliminate barriers for people who choose to seek help and aid in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness. Canada’s existing suicide hotline can be reached by calling 833-456-4566. Until 988 is active in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.
Learn more about how to care for your mental health, practice self-care, manage stress, and improve overall well-being and quality of life by following this link to the National Institute of Mental Health.