Lifestyle Health Mental Health Hotline 988 Will Launch Nationwide on July 16 Similar to how people dial 911 when in any kind of emergency, 988 will serve as an easy-to-access hotline for people struggling with a mental health crisis By Bellamy Richardson Bellamy Richardson Instagram Editorial Intern, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 15, 2022 11:01 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: getty Starting July 16, people all over the United States will be able to dial 988 to reach the new mental health hotline that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline's current phone number, 1-800-273-8255, will remain active after the new three-digit phone number launches, and is always available to people in crisis. Similar to how people dial 911 when in any kind of emergency, 988 will serve as an easy-to-access hotline for people struggling with a mental health crisis. This change comes two years after the five leaders of the U.S. Federal Communication Commission voted to finalize 988 as the three-digit number that would connect callers to the Lifeline's trained professionals across the country. Surgeon General Warns of 'Devastating' Youth Mental Health Crisis as Depression and Suicide Rise This change is in response to the global increase in mental health crises, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and, domestically, by the opioid crisis. Suicide rates have been steadily increasing over the past two decades, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and it is the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44, according to the NIMH. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Matthew Wintersteen, a clinical psychologist at Thomas Jefferson University, explained that the new 988 number will be easier to remember and therefore more helpful than the Lifeline's current 10-digit phone number. "When somebody is in a crisis, they need to be able to easily access, who do I call? Where can I go? And the idea is that 988 will become that number," Wintersteeen said. Country Legend Naomi Judd Died by Suicide After Longtime Struggle with Mental Health: Sources The recent suicides of celebrities such as Naomi Judd, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have also opened the nation's eyes to the reality of the current mental health epidemic. According to John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, calls to suicide hotlines increased by 25% the week after Spades' and Bourdain's suicides. Celebrities such as Lizzo and Demi Lovato have also opened up about their mental health struggles in hopes to reduce the stigma around the topic. Just last month, Selena Gomez, who struggles with bipolar disorder, joined Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to address the youth mental health crisis in the inaugural Mental Health Youth Action Forum. "It is a topic that should be talked about freely, without shame," Gomez said at the forum. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.