988 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

988 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Published June 20, 2022

What is 988?

988 is a direct three-digit line to trained National Suicide Prevention Lifeline crisis counselors that will go live July 16, 2022. With an easy to remember 3- digit number, the Lifeline hopes to reach many more people in emotional crisis. This service is provided free of charge to the caller.

Any person of any age can call or text 988; services will be available 24/7, year round. They will include a text option, translation services for non-English speakers, accessible options for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and services for minors.

When you’ve got a police, fire, or rescue emergency, you call 911. When you have a mental health emergency, you call/text 988.

Why do we need 988?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Native youth ages 10-24. Native communities experience the highest rates of suicide amongst all racial and ethnic groups in the Unites States, and suicide rates among American Indian and Alaska Native communities rose by 118% between 1999 and 2017. Suicide is preventable. 988 is one step in the direction of saving lives. This early intervention can reduce the burden on 911 and hospital services. 988 will move mental health and substance use services out of the shadows and into the mainstream; it will send a message that healing and getting help are normal and important parts of life.

What happens when you call or text 988?

You will be connected with a trained crisis worker from a local crisis center. Wait times are anticipated to be under one minute. The caller can talk about any emotional crisis, not just suicide. The crisis worker will use active listening to assess risk, determine if a person is in danger, and assist the person in feeling better and accessing resources. If the crisis worker believes the caller is in danger, they will work with the caller to create a safety plan that does not require calling emergency services. Less than 3% of calls result in dispatching 911 services. If you are calling about a friend or family member who is in distress, the person on the phone will walk you through how to help and provide resources.

Until July 16, call 800-662-HELP (4357) for 24-hour free and confidential referrals and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery in English and Spanish.