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Launching 988, the country's new lifeline and preventing a mental crisis

In July, a new national suicide prevention lifeline goes live. It's 988.

TAMPA, Fla. — When there's an emergency, you know what to do, call 911.

For many, it's been ingrained in our minds since we were young, but that's changing this summer.

Starting July 16, people in a suicide crisis should call 988. Suicide prevention specialists will be on the other line to listen and help someone through their darkest hour.

"If you're having suicidal thoughts, it's there, in July, it will be 988," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who was in Tampa on Friday to raise awareness about the new number.

The federal government is allocating money for the roll-out and in Florida, the Department of Children and Families is expected to receive $5,284,388 between now and the launch to assist with call capacity and other roll-out needs.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay will play a large role in answering calls.

"We have to be ready. We are working diligently to identify people who want to do this work and get them trained now. We can't wait until July," said Clara Reynolds, CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

RELATED: New 988 suicide hotline launches in July

988 will be there when someone reaches a breaking point but preventing them from ever getting there is another goal of mental health leaders in the Tampa Bay area.

"The evidence is there, you don't wait until you have a stroke to address your blood pressure," Reynolds said.

At IDEA Victory charter school in Tampa, there's a special emphasis on mental well-being. Marco Mooyoung is the mindfulness coordinator.

"So you're taught pay attention but have you ever been taught techniques you can use to help focus and concentrate," said Mooyoung, who sees all the students at IDEA Victory's two locations.

The school opened this year and will eventually serve K-8 students. Mooyoung's goal is to get children to be more aware of their emotions and how to process them.

"One time I woke up mad, Mr. Moo saw I was mad, we did some stretches and yoga, it made me feel better," said sixth-grader Keven Made.

Most of the class had never tried yoga or breathing exercises before. Yamilesaihah Thomas said she now uses the techniques at home and teaches them to her younger brother.

"I learned breathing exercises when I'm upset, how to express my emotions and advocate for myself," Thomas said.

Mooyoung considers them life lessons saying, "Now they know I can take a 10-minute break, I can go see Mr. Moo, I can talk to somebody."

A similar lesson that mental health advocates are desperately trying to teach adults before it's too late. 

"Folks don't feel like they can talk to anybody or that nobody is there to listen to them," Reynolds said.

Learn more about the new 988 Suicide Prevention Line by clicking here

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