How the new 988 suicide lifeline will help veterans

Veterans PTSD
Posted at 9:30 AM, Jul 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-17 16:13:26-04

Veterans advocates are applauding the launch of the new 9-8-8 suicide hotline.

An estimated 17 to 18 veterans die every day, according to the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention annual report.

Jeremy Harrell, CEO of Kentucky-based Veterans Club Inc., lost a friend who served in the Air Force just this week. It's something he said happens far too often.

"I'm tired of that," he said. "I'm tired of seeing people take their own lives with their own hands every single day. More of us die here than will ever die in combat."

Harrell said those lives could be saved with more accessible mental health resources, especially in crises.

One such resource is the new 988 hotline, launched Saturday. The old 10-digit number will still work, but the new number's simplicity, Harrell said, makes it easier to remember.

Once connected to the hotline, veterans can press "1" for veteran-specific support.

Due to an increase in funding, according to Harrell, the responsiveness of telecommunicators will also increase.

"The current system was only able to respond to 85% calls, 56% texts, and 30% chats, which is unacceptable," he said. "Every call missed could be the end of someone's life."