A new national suicide prevention lifeline will launch on Saturday. State health officials are making preparations to help meet the needs of North Carolinians.

The new suicide and crisis line number is 9-8-8. The goal is to create a faster, easier way for someone to get the mental health support that they need. It provides immediate access to live counselors 24/7.

The three-digit number also connects callers to help in their local community based on each person's specific needs.

For a decade, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with REAL Crisis Intervention in Greenville to operate the State's Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center. As the number changes to 9-8-8, chat and text response will also be available around the clock.

Agency officials say they've been preparing for the 9-8-8 launch with local partners thanks to a federal grant and funding from the state budget.

According to a press release, the new line is expected to bring up to 30% more calls per year, because it is easier to remember and access. NCDHHS says the state call center is adding more staff to make sure it is ready to handle the additional volume. 

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news 

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