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The 911 of mental health | Kentucky makes switch to 3-digit suicide hotline number

The governor said there are 13 call centers across the commonwealth to help people when they call in.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's governor says the state is ready to make the switch to a new number for the national suicide prevention hotline.

Starting Saturday, 988 will connect callers to mental health professionals.

It's part of a nationwide switch from the current 10-digit number.

Gov. Andy Beshear said several grants have helped the state implement the new number which he calls the 911 of mental health.

"This puts you directly in touch with experts and those trained in mental health to help you at that moment, that may be the lowest moment for many people that they are going through," Beshear said.

Megan Cole, director of Kentucky's American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said there are 13 call centers across the commonwealth to help people when they call in.

The hotline is available 24/7.

Martha Mather, CEO of UofL's Pediatric Hospital, said the state gets about 20 thousand mental health crisis calls a year.

That number is expected to double once the the 988 hotline launches.

Mather said she believes the state's call centers are ready for the influx of calls.

"I know that they have been gearing up for this for the last year for sure. And I think they've already seen an increase since the beginning of the pandemic so I feel confident that these teams are ready, she said.

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