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A new universal three-digit dialing code for suicide prevention and mental health crisis — 988 — is now live after taking effect nationwide on Saturday, July 16, 2022. SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) will administer the new “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.”
The previous toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) will remain also active and will connect callers to the new 988 Lifeline.
The 988 Lifeline is designed to become a simple alternative to both 911 and the existing 1-800 number. One of the goals of the new number is to reduce the use of 911 for suicide and mental health crises because it can result in inadequate or inappropriate intervention by police, or unnecessary hospitalization or incarceration. Calling 988 instead will direct the caller to representatives specifically trained in the management of suicide risk and other mental health crises.
This new, simplified tool is critical for the support networks and caregivers of veterans and service members, who experience higher rates of suicide across all ages and demographics than the civilian population. To reach the Veterans Crisis Line, dial 988 and press “1” to be routed to that resource.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing can access TTY by dialing 711 then 1-800-273-8255 or using their preferred relay service. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service. Interpretation through Language Line Solutions is also available in over 250 languages. Lifeline also offers services through chat and text (in English only).
For more information, please see the following resources:
- SAMSHA, “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline”
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline general information
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “988 Planning Grants: A funding opportunity by Vibrant Emotional Health and the Lifeline to plan for the implementation of 988”