JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.– The new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline goes live tomorrow, July 16, in an effort Governor Mike Parson said will establish the crisis line as easier to access and more effective at helping Missourians in need.

“We know that when individuals are experiencing crisis the sooner we can connect them to support and provide assistance the better,” Parson said in a press release. “The launch of 988 is an important step in addressing the mental health crisis and saving lives.”

The main Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, will continue to function after the change, but starting Saturday those in need will only need to dial 9-8-8 to be connected.

Parson’s office said there are currently seven crisis centers in Missouri responsible for answering calls to 988 within the state. Specialists in each center work to understand how the caller’s problems are affecting them, provide support and connect them to resources.

These specialists will also be able to dispatch mobile crisis response teams based on the needs of the person. According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Missourians will be able to call, chat and text 988 in order to connect with a crisis specialist.

Beyond simply making the lifeline number easier to remember, Missouri DMH also hopes 988 will bring change to how the community responds to behavioral health crises, decrease the number of suicides and poor mental health outcomes and reduce health care spending and use of law enforcement by bringing more cost-effective early intervention methods.

“The Missouri Department of Mental Health is seizing this opportunity to advance current crisis services towards an evidence-based care continuum prepared to deliver high-quality behavioral health services statewide,” DMH director Valerie Huhn said in a press release. “Providing consistent crisis care and support will be integral to reducing the burden on and misuse of law enforcement/emergency response and other public health services.”

The Office of the Governor said 988 centers across Missouri are expecting to see 253,000 contacts in the first year of implementation.

For those looking for more information or seeking to connect with the crisis lifeline, you can visit their website: https://988lifeline.org/