National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now 988.
Vibrant Emotional Health, the charity that operates the lifeline for SAMHSA, activated the 988 dialing number Saturday.
The lifeline’s dialing code, 1-800-273-TALK, will remain active during the expansion to 988.
Three-digit number accepts text messages.
Veteran Crisis Line is now 988-1.
“988 aims to provide support when and when it’s needed.
When someone dials 988, they’ll speak with a professional, caring crisis counselor.
If they require more help, the crisis counselor will contact a mobile crisis team.”
SAMHSA administrator Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon remarked earlier this month.
“The idea is to reduce unnecessary engagement with police departments when a person requires a mobile crisis worker or someone in the mental health system,” she said.
Since 2005, SAMHSA has financed the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
In 2020, the US Federal Communications Commission’s five leaders voted to finalize 988 as the three-digit number Americans can dial to reach experienced counselors.
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The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 amended the Communications Act of 1934 to make 988 “the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system”
Leading mental health and suicide prevention groups are concerned that 988 call centers may not be able to manage an expected flood of calls as 988 becomes an easier number to know for mental health crises, like 911 for medical emergencies.
SAMHSA expects the amount of calls, chats, and texts to double in the first year after the 988 changeover.
Bob Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told CNN that “demands may outpace capacity rapidly”
“Calls get dropped, waiting times increase, and struggling people don’t get the connection they need,” Gebbia added.
Since the FCC approved 988 in 2020, the federal government and Vibrant have been preparing for its nationwide adoption by funding state call centers and recruiting more crisis counselors.