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NC grant for $3.3m will help staff a new three-digit suicide hotline: 988.

The grant goes into effect on April 30. The new hotline will be open starting on July 16, 2022.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina got a grant for $3.3 million.  In just a few days the money kicks in and it covers 2 years. The money, from April 30, 2022, to April 29, 2024, is for one specific purpose, the new suicide, and crisis lifeline.

Beginning on July 16, 2022, you can dial 988, a three-digit code, from anywhere in the U.S. to get help. When someone calls the national hotline they will get a greeting message while the system figures out which local hotline has a trained counselor on staff to talk to the caller. That's where the grant money comes in. North Carolina needs the money to staff our local hotline centers.

The national hotline 10-digit number that is in existence will still work after July, but the hope is making it a 3-number dial will take away all the barriers. “A lot of times when people are considering self-harm they are going through a lot of emotions. If we have a number that is rote, like 911, that will be a big help,” said Mike Rovaris, Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

The work for this three-digit hotline started years ago. In 2020, congress designated the new 988 code, but it took time to make sure the telephone systems could handle the new number and get staffing for centers in place. “It's not just for people in the process of taking steps to hurt themselves, it’s also for people who just have thoughts about it, that's a critical key,” said Rovaris.

When the hotline is up and running in July you'll be able to call or text.