National hotline

Deadline Detroit | Do you feel suicidal? National 988 hotline debuts today, including metro Detroit area

For nearly 50 years, 911 has been the number to call for medical and police emergencies nationwide. Today, 988 joins it as an emergency number for those contemplating suicide.

Asking for help can stop the spiral of suicidal thoughts. (File photo)

These 988 calls will be answered on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and callers will be directed to local agencies that can help.

WDIV reports:

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has a network of over 200 national and local call centers available 24/7.

Macomb County Community Mental Health is one of them.

“So our crisis will take calls from across the country and they will take calls from our local,” Crystal Bouissi said. “All these lines have been merged into one. No one should have to endure a long wait anywhere.

Mental health advocates hope 988 will reduce 911 calls about these crises, as police are not always trained to deal with them, nor always available to do so.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, under its old 10-digit number, received 3.6 million calls last year and expects that to double under the 988 system, according to WDIV.