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Ohio call centers ready as new 988 mental health hotline launches nationwide

While some Ohioans were already able to connect to the hotline, this dialing code is now available to everyone across the United States.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — 988 is the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Starting Saturday, this dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting on Saturday. However, some Ohioans were already able to connect to the hotline prior to the national launch. 

Netcare Access has been answering crisis phone calls since 1996 when its 24/7 Emergency Response Service (ERS) was established. The program is staffed by licensed professionals like Carrie Wirick, who are ready to answer urgent questions and connect the caller to local resources.

"Inside of every suicidal person, there's a battle between wanting to live and being afraid to live because life feels so horrible," Wirick said. "We work really hard on helping the callers feel like someone cares."

Netcare takes about 100,000 calls for mental health help each year. Since February 2022, they've taken about 1,100 988 calls and, within the past few weeks, responded to 10 texts and chats per day.

"This is another way to meet patients where they are," said Netcare CEO and Medical Director Dr. Brian Stroh.

This transition will not replace the current National Suicide Prevention Hotline number. Both 988 and 1-800-273-8255 will connect to the same suicide prevention lifeline. The current Lifeline phone number, 1-800-273-8255, will always remain available.

RELATED: New 988 hotline is the 911 for mental health emergencies

RELATED: Yes, the suicide prevention lifeline is changing to 988, but the old number will still work

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