HomeHealthNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline Launches '988'

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Launches ‘988’

Over the weekend, Vibrant Emotional Health, a nonprofit that operates the lifeline on behalf of SAMHSAlaunched the 988 dialing code. It is available to everyone throughout the United States. Previously, the dialing code to reach the lifeline was 1-800-273-TALK, which will remain operational. In addition, the three-digit code can receive text messages. Veterans will dial 988 and press 1 to reach the Veteran Crisis Line. 

Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the administrator of SAMHSA, shared that the goal of 988 is to get people the help they need. Also, when an individual reaches out to the call line, they will have the opportunity to talk to “a train, compassionate crisis counselor.” And if they’re still in need, the crisis counselor will connect with a local mobile crisis team. Another concern the hotline will try to tackle is “minimizing unnecessary contact or connection with police departments.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline started in 2005 and is funded by SAMHSA. However, in 2020, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s leaders voted to finalize 988. 988 is a more manageable number to remember for a mental health crisis, similar to how people dial 911 for medical emergencies.

In 2021, the call line received 3.6 million calls, chats, and texts. And unfortunately, that number is expected to double in the first full year after the 988 transitions. Understandably, there is concern about call centers not being fully ready for an anticipated influx of calls.

The federal government and Vibrant are preparing for the nationwide implementation of the three-digit number. They are providing grants to states to support call centers and actively trying to recruit more crisis counselors. For more information or updates about 988, then visit SAMHSA.gov.


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