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Orange County prepares to rollout new national suicide hotline number in July. It's three easy numbers: 988

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Orange County is working with healthcare providers to prepare for the rollout of a new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number.

That number across the US including in Florida will be 988 starting mid-July. 

Mayor Jerry Demings says this new number should not only be easier for people to remember compared with the current 10-digit number, but it will offer expanded referrals to local treatment centers.

“It is something that we have to make certain that we are prepared for, so the back of the house has to be in order. We have to have the resources because the suggestion here is that if you dial 988 then that means that you got to have the community resources to respond to it.”

Demings says the goal is to take some of the burden off 911 call centers, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

“So this is a timely effort on our behalf. You're going to hear much more about this across the country what 988 truly means and so putting this taskforce in place to make this evaluation is truly important.”

Florida currently ranks 49th out of 50 states when it comes to accessing mental health treatment, according to the Mental Health America 2022 report.

Before July, if you or a friend needs help, call 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in both English and Spanish.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.