GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Starting July 16, 2022, if you dial 9-8-8 you’ll be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Officials say this will make getting help easier. They’re also hopeful this will decrease the stigma surrounding mental health.

Mental Health America of Greenville County said it’s no secret right now people have been struggling. Volunteers with the organization answer calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline made by South Carolinians.

Executive Director Jennifer Piver said, “Last year we received about 22,500 phone calls and we’re already at that number here in July.”

When the 988 number becomes operational next year, Piver said they’re anticipating call volumes to increase anywhere from 4 to 10%. Piver said, “We want the calls to stay and hope to stay in South Carolina.”

She is expecting a 7% increase in calls to the lifeline from South Carolinians or an additional 115,000 calls a year.

To handle this increase in calls and support resources, South Carolina will need extra funding. Piver said they’ve been applying for grants and in touch with state lawmakers about this.

According to Piver, a small service charge could be added to your phone bill, similar to a 911 service charge. She said it would be a couple of cents extra a month.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) said South Carolina received a grant in February to support the 988 line.

They said the grant funds will help SCDMH develop strategic plans for implementing the change in South Carolina.

The current 10-digit number for the lifeline (800-273-8255) remains operational and will remain online after the transition.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts you can get free and confidential support 24/7. by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.