Federal agencies award $3.5 million to expand 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline response in the Delaware Valley

File photo: A man uses a cell phone in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

File photo: A man uses a cell phone in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is awarding additional funding to states and U.S. territories for an expansion of mental health and substance use crisis services, specifically local operations of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey will get about $3.5 million, collectively.

The 988 helpline is a national service, but callers seeking help for a mental health crisis are often put through to experts and providers in the areas nearest to where they live.

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The new funding is intended to help expand on-the-ground operations and maintain the referral networks.

The national hotline transitioned to a simple three-digit number earlier this year in order to make it easier for people to seek help.

Nationally, the number and rate of suicides has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among people 15 to 24 years old.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can offer free, confidential support. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.

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