Alaska prepares to roll out new 988 suicide prevention hotline on July 16

a phone dialed to 988
Alaskans will soon be able to reach a suicide prevention hotline by calling 988 instead of a 10-digit number. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Alaskans will soon be able to reach a suicide prevention hotline by calling a three-digit number instead of a 10-digit number.

Starting July 16, calls and texts to 988 from a 907 area code will go to the Careline, Alaska’s suicide hotline. It’s part of a national effort to establish one suicide hotline number across the country.

Crisis counselors with the Careline provide confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’re trained to help people of all ages, including non-English speakers, veterans, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

At a public health presentation in May, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said it will provide an alternative to 911 for people experiencing mental health emergencies.

“It can be for people who are in crisis or someone who is caring for someone in crisis, and essentially what it will do is connect you to the Careline,” she said.

In Alaska in 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death for Alaska Native youth aged 10 to 19, and for youth aged 10 to 14. Suicide was the second leading cause of death overall for Alaskans aged 15 to 34 in 2020. That’s according to the state health department.

Alaskans will still be able to reach the Careline at 877-266-HELP. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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