In the News: New 988 Mental Health Hotline Rollout in Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - 911 is the universal number for help, soon 988 will be the number to call for mental health emergencies.

6 News is On Your Side with what you'll want to know about the rollout in Nebraska.

The current 11-digit number for the National Suicide Hotline is being shrunk down to save lives.

“We recognize that when people are in a crisis it can be difficult to remember a longer digit number, which is why we are moving into that 988 direction," said Michelle Nunemaker.

988 is intended to combat the growing problem of mental health issues in America. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people.

By July 16th all service providers will support 988 and when you dial the number you'll be routed to local responders.

“If you are calling 911 and it was handled on a national basis that would be very confusing. With this transition to where I'm calling 988 locally, I'm talking to people locally, I'm connected to services locally," said Kyle Kinney, program manager at Boys Town.

All 988 calls in Nebraska will go through ​Boys Town but working the national hotline is not new for them.

“Boys Town, we've been operating it for Nebraska since it began in 2005, so very much feel prepared for that transition. very excited about it," said Kinney.

Kinney says that crisis counselors are trained in suicidology, crisis de-escalation, safety planning, and Nebraska resource navigation. But if a situation does need emergency services like 911, the hotline is equipped to forward those calls.

With an easier number to remember, Kyle Kinney anticipates a higher volume of callers but says he's excited to continue servicing the community.

988 is funded by the state and federal government but officials at Boys Town say they can always use volunteers to support operations.​