OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – There’s a new 911- like number going into effect on July 16 all across the United States. 988 is going to be the new three- digit calling code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). This project has been in the works since October of 2020.

Calling or texting 988 will connect callers to trained call takers who work with the NSPL. These call takers can listen, understand, provide support and connect callers with resources 24/7 all 365 days of the year.

Officials say the goal is to remove the stigma around mental health crises to try to prevent suicide.

“By reducing the 10-digit Lifeline number to 3 easy-to-remember digits, we are removing another potential barrier for those seeking help for themselves or someone else, and RiverValley is proud to be part of this,” said Dr. Lionel Phelps, Vice President for Continuous Quality Improvement. “Every call, chat, and text, is vitally important, and individuals that find themselves in need of crisis services will now have an even greater opportunity to be connected with the care they need.”

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline instead of dispatching officers, connects those in a mental health crises with mental health professionals. According to recent data, suicide is the leading cause of death nationwide in people ages 10-34.

RiverValley Behavioral Health serves as the regional 988 call center for the following seven counties: Daviess, Henderson, Ohio, McLean, Union, Webster and Hancock.

Additionally they will also have a Mobile Crisis Unit they can dispatch to mental health crises to assist them similar to EMT’s but with mental health professionals.

The current Lifeline phone number will stay operational at 1-800-273-8255. Additionally RiverValley’s crisis lines will remain open as well at 270-684-9466 or 1-800-433-7291 for those who are Hearing Impaired.

More information about 988 is available here.