The 988 Lifeline
Blog Author: Brandee Sherrer, Intern Counselor
There is no doubt a mental health crisis is in our country. In 2020 alone, the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes. With a global pandemic, looming recession, and global conflict it is understandable that there is a collective suffering being felt during this historical context. While some of us may cope effectively with what is available to us, some of us may feel overwhelmed and need extra support during this time. There is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, it takes a lot of strength and courage to acknowledge that we are not okay. Please read on to find out about a national resource that you can use 24/7 if you or someone you know is in a mental health or substance-related crisis.
On July 16, 2022, the United States transitioned to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Line, this number is easy to remember and helps you reach trained crisis counselors for help with thoughts of suicide, mental health crisis, and substance-related crises. The bipartisan legislation that brought this three-digit number to fruition was passed in 2020 and federal investments were increased to support crisis centers and back-up center capacity. All telephone service and text providers were required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to activate 988 no later than the July 16 deadline. The lifeline links to the Veterans Crisis Line, an added benefit for Veterans who may be struggling and need help connecting to resources. In order to reach the Veterans Crisis Line, one can simply dial 988 and then press 1.
During the first week of operation, there was an increase in call volume by 45% with counselors answering 23,000 more calls, texts and chats than the previous week. Because the network of care already exists, when you contact the 988 Lifeline you will receive the same trusted and resourceful response that has been established previously through many hours of hard work and collaboration. The line is open 24/7 and someone is always available to take your call to offer free and confidential support. You can call or text 988 or chat with a counselor at https://988lifeline.org. There are over 200 state and local call centers within the network waiting to assist. Moreover, the 10-digit Lifeline number 1-800-273-TALK (8255) will continue to be operational and route calls to 988 indefinitely.
988 is different from 911, whose focus is on dispatching emergency services as needed. 988 provides easier access to the Lifeline network and its related crisis resources. The goal is to improve access to the network and accompanying resources. The Lifeline helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. There is always someone available to listen!
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, call or text 988 or chat https://988lifeline.org.
If you wish to be a part of this work, you can visit SAMHSA’s 988 jobs page at samhsa.gov/find-help/988/jobs.
All information was found on samhsa.gov.