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The suicide hotline will be 3 digits soon, but Florida could be unprepared for a surge in calls

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Florida is scrambling to prepare for the flood of calls expected when the country rolls out a three-digit suicide hotline this summer.

Starting in July, callers will just dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, making it much easier than dialing the current 10-digit number. With mental health now a crisis, some states have created dedicated ways to pay for more staff and upgrade technology to support their 988 call systems. Florida is relying on a patchwork of funding, with some counties more ready than others for the surge in volume projected.

Although the 911 system took decades to build, mental health experts say the country will need to move fast to add staff to man the call lines and update technology for 988 because in the first year alone, call volume is expected to increase by 300%. Florida’s increase could be even greater with suicide the third most frequent cause of death in the state.

Read more from our partner, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.