(WVNS) — 9-8-8. Those three numbers are now the three digits you can call to access the Suicide Prevention Hotline. This number is a universal number and can be accessed nationwide.

“Here in West Virginia we have been planning for this for months. Really nationwide people have been planning for this. It is going to give people the opportunity to reach out quickly and easily with a number they can remember hopefully as easily as a number as 911,” said Sheila Moran, Director of Marketing and Communications at First Choice Services.

While the number is universal, if you call from the state of West Virginia, you will speak directly to someone located in the Mountain State, someone who might better understand what you are going through and be able to direct you to local resources.

“You won’t have a computer, you won’t have someone in Kansas that is going to answer the line and not understand the local conditions. You are going to be able to dial 988 and have someone here in West Virginia who knows what it’s like being here in West Virginia and dealing with the issues you are seeing,” said Greg Puckett, Executive Director of Community Connections.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of mental health has been at the forefront of people’s minds. Terrance Hamm, the 988 Program Director, said being able to talk about mental health helps break the stigma that surrounds it.

“Anytime you can sort of eliminate the stigmas and normalize conversations it is always helpful and it is a huge step in the right direction in creating that space where someone can say ‘hey I am not in a good place,'” said Hamm.

If you are in need of help, remember it is ok to not be okay but help is available.
All you have to do is dial. 988.