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988 was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 provides easier access to the NSPL network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911. 911’s focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire, and police as needed.
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NSPL is a national network of over 180 local, independent, and state-funded crisis centers. They are equipped to respond and help people in emotional distress or experiencing thoughts of suicide.
988 does not replace the NSPL phone number but provides another, easier way for people to reach more crisis centers. You can call either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected.
July 16, 2022. The 988 dialing code is available nationwide.
Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing or texting 988 (or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)).
The primary goal of the NSPL is to provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress in the moments they most need it, and in a manner which is centered on the person in crisis.
The vast majority of those seeking help from the NSPL do not require any additional interventions at that moment. Currently, fewer than two percent of NSPL calls require emergency services, like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or EMS (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.
A small percentage of NSPL calls require activation of the 911 system when there is imminent risk to someone’s life that cannot be reduced during the call. In these cases, the crisis counselor shares information with 911 that is crucial to saving the caller’s life.
The NSPL greeting states that calls may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes. Additionally, crisis centers in the NSPL network may independently use call recordings for training purposes, dependent on the best practices of the center.
It’s also important to note that people contacting 988 are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. SAMHSA recognizes the importance and the expectation of privacy when a person contacts 988. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.
Yes, you can dial 988 for substance use crises, however, in case of an overdose emergency, call 911 and administer naloxone.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) views 988 as an opportunity to transform the country’s behavioral health crisis system to respond to anyone in need.
Congress has provided the Department of Health and Human Services workforce funding through the American Rescue Plan, some of which will support the 988 workforce.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request provides additional funding for the NSPL itself and for other federal crisis funding sources.
At the state level, in addition to existing public/private sector funding streams, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 allows states to enact new state telecommunications fees to support 988 operations.
E2SHB1477 is further funded by a tax on Washington’s phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline currently provides live crisis center calling services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages. Text and chat are currently available in English only.
The Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Lifeline also offers services through chat and text. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the Lifeline/988.