The new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched on July 16, 2022. With 988, it’s now easier than ever for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress–whether that is thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress–to seek immediate help.
The new 988 dialing code operates through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the Lifeline) network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers across the U.S. People can now access a strengthened and expanded Lifeline via 988 or the existing 10-digit number (which will not go away).
In this post, we’ll continue the introduction of the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and provide additional resources for you to learn more and be prepared if you or someone you know experiences a mental health crisis.
What is 988?
Beyond being an easy-to-remember number, 988 provides a direct connection to trained, compassionate and community-based crisis counselors for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress–whether that is thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.
Who can use 988?
988 services are confidential, free and available 24/7/365 for anyone experiencing a mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis. And 988 isn’t just for you. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
How are 988 services accessed?
The 988-dialing code is available for call (multiple languages) or text (English only), and chat services (English only) can be accessed at 988Lifeline.org. 988 services are available through every landline, cell phone and voice-over-internet device in the U.S.
How is 988 different from 911?
The focus of 988 is to provide easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from 911, where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police, as needed.
Why was 988 created and where can I get more information?
Congress designated the new 988 dialing code in 2020 to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the lead federal agency, along with Vibrant Emotional Health (operational home of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Veterans Affairs, to make 988 a reality in the U.S.
SAMHSA provides comprehensive resources for anyone to learn more about 988, suicide prevention and mental health crisis services at SAMHSA.gov/988.
Is my state ready for 988?
States are at varying degrees of readiness for the volume increases expected from moving to the 3-digit code, 988. The federal government is responding to resource challenges with unprecedented levels of funding and an all-of-government approach to partner with state and local leaders to improve system capacity and performance.
Find additional information and materials on suicide prevention at MagellanHealthcare.com/Prevent-Suicide, and stay tuned for our September Suicide Prevention Awareness Month campaign and free webinar.
Sign up to receive updates a few times a month from Magellan on free behavioral health resources you can use and share with family, friends and colleagues here.
Sources: SAMHSA and the National Action Alliance for Suicide prevention