The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding nearly $105 million to 54 states and territories to help states transition from the 10-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a simpler “988” dialing code to call, text or chat on July 16. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law last year. California, the most populous state, will get nearly $14.5 million, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The money will go toward improving response rates, increasing capacity and more quickly routing calls to local centers for people in need. It can also bolster the workforce for local text and chat responses.
Along with other funds, the Biden administration is increasing federal funding of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by 40 fold compared to four years ago, HHS says. “It is imperative that states and territories partner closely with HHS to ensure the highest level of 988 contact response,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has provided learning materials, such as sample videos and social media posts, for states to improve the lifeline’s services. “Preparing for the transition to 988 is a top priority for SAMHSA,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, who leads the agency.