National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

On July 16th, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) transitioned from its previous ten-digit phone number to the 988 dialing code.

What is 988? 988 is a 3-digit dialing code for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, the transition to this 3-digit number was done as an easier-to-remember way to access an expanded network of crisis call centers where compassionate, accessible care and support are available for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, mental health, substance abuse crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.

What happens when I call/text/chat with 988?

Calling 988: You will first hear a greeting while being routed to a local Lifeline network crisis center, this network is made up of 200+ independent crisis centers across the US and territories. Your call is routed based on your area code. You will then be connected to a trained crisis counselor supervised every shift by a licensed mental health professional. These counselors will answer your call, listen, and understand how your problem affects you or others. They can provide support and share resources. If a local crisis center is unable to take the call, the call will be automatically routed to a national backup crisis centerLifeline provides services in English & Spanish, but they also utilize Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages

Texting 988: As of now, texting is available in English only. When someone texts 988, they will be responded to by a group of Lifeline crisis centers that respond to chat and text. It is expected that this service will expand over the next few years to increase local and state-level response.

Chatting with 988: As of now, the chat feature is in English only and available through Lifeline’s website. People seeking chat services will be provided a pre-chat survey connecting with a counselor that identifies the main area of concern. If the demand is high, individuals can access Lifeline’s helpful resources while waiting or call 988.

The Lifeline currently serves TTY (deaf or hard of hearing) through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 and then 1-800-273-8255. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve the deaf or hard of hearing community who are seeking help through Lifeline/988

How will 988 and 9-1-1 work together? Counselors will determine via their protocols that someone is at imminent risk of harming themselves or others, if this determination is made, Lifeline will contact 9-1-1 to dispatch officers to your location. 988 is not able to directly transfer a call to 9-1-1, it is then that the Lifeline counselor must relay the information to your local police department. Remember, you can always call 9-1-1 ANY time you or someone you know is in an emergency situation. You are more than welcome to come up to the police department and speak to someone or call our non-emergency number, 361-758-5224.