New 988 suicide hotline launches nationwide

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The new suicide prevention hotline number “988” is rolling out across the country. 

“We support about 10,000 calls a month currently,” said Wendy Linebrink-Allison.

Linebrink-Allison has been the program manager at the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line for almost a decade. 

“Over the years, crisis lines have become utilized more and more and more, we’ve gradually see a trend in people calling us over the years more and more and more. And that’s a result of less stigma happening in our communities. And so people are more comfortable talking to mental health concerns,” said Linebrink-Allison.  

And starting Saturday, it just got even easier to call for help. The National Suicide Crisis Hotline used to be a 10-digit number, but now all you have to do is dial: 988.

“And so 988 is similar to 911. And people will be able to remember it easy. It’s hard to remember a 10-digit number when you’re in crisis. And so having a three-digit number and making it easier for somebody in that moment, is essential to getting people to the right place at the right time,” Linebrink-Allsion said. 

The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line fields all 988 calls with a “505” or 575″ area code, and the new number also adds new features to make it even easier for people to get help. 

“We’ve also recently integrated responding to text messaging and chat on the 988 line. And so you know, that’s a new service for us, historically, we’ve only answered support via the phone,” said Linebrink-Allison. 

Through the last two years of the pandemic, the hotline first saw a drop in calls before reaching its highest volume ever. 

Linebrink-Allsion hopes the easier number will mean even more crisis intervention. 

“The thing I always like to tell people is that you’re not alone. You know, I remember when I was not in recovery, and I was surrounded by people, but I felt so alone. Sometimes it helps to talk to somebody that you don’t know,” said Linebrink-Allsion.