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IN CRISIS? CALL or TEXT  988

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 988?

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also call, text or chat 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. The 988 Lifeline is a direct connection to immediate support and resources for anyone in crisis.

Who should call 988?

Anyone who is struggling can use this service, whether it be someone who is depressed, needs to talk, or is contemplating suicide. The crisis counselors are here to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing. There are many reasons that people connect with the 988 Lifeline. Some examples in addition to thoughts of suicide are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, sexual orientation worries, drinking too much, drug use, feeling depressed, mental and physical illness, loneliness, trauma, relationships, and economic worries.

How do I connect to 988?

You can connect with a 988 counselor by either calling 988, texting ‘Help’ (or ‘Ayuda’ for Spanish speakers) to 988, or by chatting online at 988lifeline.org/chat.

How are 988 calls routed?

Currently, calls to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline are routed to the nearest geographic 988 crisis call center based on the defined location of the first six digits (area code and prefix) of the caller’s phone number, regardless of the actual location of the caller. This means that a wireless call could be directed to a 988 crisis call center that is not the nearest one to the person reaching out for support. For example, if a person experiencing a crisis in Colorado dials 988 using a cell phone number with a New York area code, that person is routed to the New York call center covering that area code rather than the call center aligned to their physical location in Colorado.

What training do call takers receive?

Current requirements are for each center in the network to develop their own training curriculum that incorporates the 988 Lifeline’s clinical requirements, meets their center and community’s specific local needs, and addresses the training requirements of their chosen accrediting body/bodies. These include making sure that the training program instructs crisis counselors to assess safety/risk in a way that aligns with 988 Lifeline Suicide Safety Assessment standards, and that centers train their crisis counselors to address all of the 988 Lifeline required policies related to working with callers, chatters, and texters.

The 988 Lifeline launched an online learning portal in November 2022 with a core clinical curriculum to support crisis centers across the country and ensure that anyone who contacts the 988 Lifeline receives consistent, effective, research-based support from any crisis counselor. This curriculum provides foundational information. The 988 Lifeline’s online courses will supplement the crisis counselor training that centers currently provide their staff and volunteers. In addition, the 988 Lifeline offers several other educational resources to support centers with their training needs, including interactive simulation trainings, a Safety Assessment informational website, and a Network Resource website filled with guidance documents, tip sheets, and archived webinars on a wide variety of clinical and operational topics.

Is 988 available in other languages?

When calling 988, press 2 to connect to a trained Spanish-speaking crisis counselor.

When texting 988 in Spanish, you will be asked to type “Ayuda” to connect with a Spanish-speaking counselor.

For people who speak other languages, call 988 and you will be provided translation in more than 240 additional languages through Language Line Solutions.

What if I call the old 800 number?

Moving to 988 does not mean the 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number goes away. Dialing either phone number will reach the Lifeline. 988 is an easier-to-remember number for people to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers.

Will anyone else know that I called 988?

In short, no. People who call, text, or chat the 988 Lifeline are not required to provide any personal information 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.

Any effort to obtain demographic information from those who use the 988 Lifeline will serve three primary purposes: 1) to save lives; 2) to connect people to ongoing supports; and 3) to evaluate system needs and performance, particularly ensuring that gaps and inequities are being addressed.

Will 988 call takers send police to my house?

The primary goal of the 988 Lifeline is to provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress in the moments they need it most and in a manner that is person-centered. The vast majority of those seeking help from the 988 Lifeline do not require any additional interventions at that moment. Currently, fewer than two percent of Lifeline calls require a connection to emergency services like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or Emergency Medical Services (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 Lifeline coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.