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General News

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

August 4, 2022
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On July 16, 2022, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), officially began accepting calls. Presently in the “soft launch” phase, the line is proving a vital force to speed up the response for people experiencing potentially life-threatening mental health and substance use crises.
Below is a quick guide to the system as well as links for more in-depth information about it.

Who Is 988 For And How Does It Work?

Anyone across the United States who is experiencing a suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis can access free, confidential 24/7 call, text, and chat services via the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Trained crisis counselors are always available to help and provide resources. You can call or text 988 directly or utilize the chat function located at http://988lifeline.org/chat.

What Are Riggs’ Experts Saying?

“Access to care often begins at moments of crisis, even though it then must continue with resources dedicated to achieving recovery–the process over time that leads to living a self-directed life. 988 is an important entry point when a crisis opens the door to meaningful treatment.” – Eric M. Plakun, Medical Director/CEO
“Suicide is a significant public health problem in this country requiring immediate, short-term, and long-term intervention strategies to help those in acute crises and with recurrent or ongoing suicidal thinking and behavior. The implementation of 988 acknowledges the seriousness of the issue and is a good common-sense public health initiative that will save lives.” – Jane G. Tillman, PhD, ABPP, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education, Research, and Advocacy

What Are Some Early Results?

According to Vibrant Emotional Health, which runs crisis lines such as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, 96,000 calls, texts, and chats came in during the transition week between July 14 and July 20, representing a 45% increase in volume over the previous week and a 66% increase compared to the same week in 2021. Call volume is projected to steadily increase, which makes properly funding this public health service even more necessary.

How Is 988 Funded?

The Federal government is investing $432 million, with Congress providing the Department of Health and Human Services workforce funding through the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. State and local resources depend on existing public/private sector funding streams, while the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 gives states the authority to enact new telecommunication fees to support operation of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

How Can You Help?

On their website (https://988lifeline.org/participate/) the988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline outlines several ways you can get involved, from raising awareness, sharing your story, volunteering with a local crisis center, or donating. We can all play a role in supporting this crucial service designed to save lives and help those who are struggling.

Select 988 Resources