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Alaska prepares to roll out new 988 suicide prevention hotline on July 16

Tegan Hanlon
Alaska Public Media
Alaskans will soon be able to reach a suicide prevention hotline by calling 988 instead of a 10-digit number.

Alaskans will soon be able to reach a suicide prevention hotline by calling a three-digit number instead of a 10-digit number.

Starting July 16, calls to 988 will go to the Careline, Alaska’s suicide hotline. It’s part of a national effort to establish one suicide hotline number across the country.

At a public health presentation on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said it will provide an alternative to 911 for people experiencing mental health emergencies.

“It can be for people who are in crisis or someone who is caring for someone in crisis, and essentially what it will do is connect you to the Careline,” she said.

Zink also thanked communities like Fairbanks, where 911 and 988 teams are working together to coordinate responses to mental health emergencies.

“[The teams] can sometimes even dispatch mental health providers in lieu of police or EMS to be able to respond to mental health crises, not just physical crises,” she said.

Until 988 is active on July 16, to reach the Careline, Alaskans can use 877-266-HELP. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage