Starting this summer, people with mental health issues or thoughts of suicide will have an easier and quicker way to get the help they desperately need.

Currently, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 — a 10-digit number where free and confidential emotional support in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But that will change starting July 16 when it transitions to a simpler three-digit dialing code: 988.

New Jersey received more than $2.5 million from funds made available from the American Rescue Plan, said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ. 6th District.

He said a 10-digit number can often be difficult for people to remember so the new three-digit code will hopefully make it easier for people to call.

"People have an easier time remembering a three-digit number than a 10-digit number. I know that I do," laughed Pallone.

The new 988 code is meant to increase call capacity to ensure those calls are routed to someone who is a qualified, mental health professional and to build up the workforce for that purpose.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis in this country, and we must ensure that individuals who need help can get it. With a new, more simple number, individuals in crisis will be able to receive the support they need from qualified professionals through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline," Pallone said.

He is also glad to see that states, like New Jersey, are receiving this necessary funding to make this vital number more accessible during emergencies.

With the new 988 code, people can either call, text or use the chat feature on the website.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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