File Photo | Photo by Torsten Dettlaff

The new 988 hotline, similar to 911, launched nationwide Saturday to make it easier for those who are suicidal or experiencing other mental crises to get help.

Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, said the new 988 number is easy for people to remember.

Previously, the number for the suicide and crisis line was 800-273-8255, which is still operational after the Saturday transition.

Anyone experiencing suicidal, substance use and other mental health crises can reach a trained crisis counselor by calling or texting 988.

The line is a free and confidential service, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Converting to this easy-to-remember number offers the public increased access to potentially lifesaving, trained crisis counselors. State and federal funding have made it possible to increase staffing at Illinois’ six existing 988 call centers to ensure that calls are answered in-state,” the Illinois governor’s office said in a statement.

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Gov. JB Pritzker said the expanded 988 number “will help save many lives.”

“To any Illinois resident who might be struggling, know that you are not alone. We are here to support you. You can receive help by dialing or texting 988,” Pritzker said.

“The Governor was clear that we needed a stronger effort to support mental health in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace B. Hou.

“The launch of 988 will help people across the state prevent mental health crises from escalating into emergencies,” Hou said.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults ages 15-34 in Illinois and the fourth leading cause of death for those ages 35-44, the governor’s office said.

In addition to funding from the federal government, Pritzker said he committed nearly $15 million to bolster Illinois’ statewide 988 call center.

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