RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Starting Saturday, there will be a new emergency number– 988 — that anyone can call for mental health help. This new number will replace the current hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health shows suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Experts with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services feel the new number is easier to remember for those who need the service.

Deepa Avula, Director for the Division of Mental Health, Development Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, said this should help millions of people.

“There are millions of people across the country that struggle with mental health issues. We also know that many of the individuals who don’t get the help they need in a timely way, may turn to things like harming themselves or harming others,” Avula shared.

In 2019, more than 1,300 people died by suicide in the state of North Carolina, according to NCDHHS.

Saturday, 988 will become the new number across the country for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Experts said this move to 988 is easier for many people to remember and could be a determining factor between life and death for some.

Congress recently established the 988 number as a simplified resource for individuals in crisis who need the assistance.

In collaboration with many community, local and state partners, NCDHHS has been preparing for the launch of 988. This included two grants awarded to the department—the first was awarded in January 2021 for planning purposes and totaled $129,555. A second $3.3 million federal grant was also awarded to the department in April 2022 for workforce development of the Lifeline’s new number over the next two years.

Additionally, $1.3 million in recurring funds to support the call center was included in the budget that was passed by the NC General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper earlier this week.

The funding is based on the number of calls each state gets. While the final data for 2020 is not yet available, the preliminary numbers show more than 37,000 callers received crisis intervention help in North Carolina to prevent suicide deaths.

“The move to the number ‘988’ represents is really out ability as a nation to say that we really want to provide individuals as much access to mentally health help as possible,” Avula shared.