Too many people are experiencing suicidal, mental health, and substance use crises without the support and care they need. Urgent realities are driving the need for crisis service transformation across our country.
In 2020 alone, the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes, and it was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 14 and 25 to 34 years. Additionally, from April 2020 to 2021, over 100,000 individuals died from drug overdoses.
That’s where the simplified 3-digit Suicide & Crisis Lifeline hopes to offer professional support. Starting July 16, 2022, 988 will be the new phone number people can text or call to connect with the existing 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Will first responders be dispatched if I contact 988?
The primary goal of the 988 Lifeline is to support people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress when they most need it and in a person-centered manner. The majority of people seeking help from the 988 Lifeline do not require any additional interventions at that moment. Fewer than two percent of Lifeline calls require connection to emergency services like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement or Emergency Medical Services (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.
Who can use 988?
Anyone experiencing mental health-related distress can use the 988 Lifeline—whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also reach out if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
What happens when I call 988?
When callers dial 988, they will first hear a greeting message while their call is routed to the local Lifeline network crisis center (based on the caller’s area code). A trained crisis counselor will answer the phone, listen to the caller, understand how their problem affects them, provide support, and share resources if needed. If the local crisis center cannot take the call, the caller will be automatically routed to a national backup crisis center.
The 988 Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 988.
What happens when I text or chat 988?
When someone texts 988, they will be responded to by a group of Lifeline crisis centers that respond to chat and text. This service will increase local and state-level response over the next few years. Once connected, a crisis counselor will listen to you, work to understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share resources that may be helpful.
How to use the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
- Call 988
- Text 988 (English only)
- Chat online at 988Lifeline.org (English only)
The 988 Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 and then 1-800-273-8255. The service is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the 988 Lifeline.
You can learn more about 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.