988, new suicide lifeline number, will launch July 16

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In just over a week, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number will change from a 800 number to three simple digits: 988. The goal is to get more people in crisis the help they need. 

“When someone’s in crisis, they really need a simple way to reach out for help,” said social worker Arianna Gallagher. 

The number will switch to 988 on July 16. 

According to a 2021 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, suicide rates increase 33% between 1999 through 2019. In New Mexico, 520 people died by suicide in 2020 – most died by using a firearm. 

Gallagher said going through the pandemic and also new waves of stressors like inflation are having an impact on more people. 

“In some ways, it’s made the conversation about mental health in general a little bit more accessible,” she said. “It’s sort of broken through the stigma.”

Mental health officials said the lifeline will make it much easier for people to talk to someone and also set them up with local services.