“988” launches to reach National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Starting this weekend, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be easier to reach.
As of July 16, the lifeline will be able to be reached by dialing 988 from phones.
Starting on Saturday, residents can call, text, or chat 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).
You can dial 988 if you are having:
- Thoughts of suicide.
- Mental health crises.
- Substance use crises.
- Any other kind of emotional distress.
You can also dial 988 if you are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
These calls are confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.
The Washington Health Care Authority says that the change began in 2020 when Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
In Washington, legislators passed HB 1477 (E2SHB 1477), the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act, to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for all people in Washington. This bill established the Crisis Response improvement Strategy (CRIS) committee, which will develop recommendations to support implementation of the work in the bill.
988 calls go directly to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline member centers.
The ten-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will remain active.
988 fast facts
- 988 will be confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors.
- Access to the NSPL is available through every land line, cell phone, and voice-over internet devices in the United States.
- 988 services will be available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 250 languages.
- The 988 dialing code will be available for call, text, and chat by July 16, 2022. Until then, those in crisis should continue to use 1-800-273-8255, which will function even after July 16.
- The nationwide implementation of the 988 three-digit call, text, and chat line is just the first important step in re-imagining crisis support in the U.S.
- After July 16, Washington will launch the Native and Strong Lifeline, dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who call 988. The Native and Strong Lifeline will work in partnership with the Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub to identify resources and follow-up for those contacting 988. For additional resources, please see NativeAndStrong.org and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
What DOES change July 16, 2022
- 988 calls go directly to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline member centers. The ten-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will remain active.
- 988 calls are routed by the caller’s area code. Washington, including regional member centers, do not control routing at this time.
What does NOT change July 16, 2022
- 988 is added but all of the existing phone lines and services people are familiar with and utilize do NOT go away.
- There will be no changes to dispatch for Designated Crisis Responders and mobile crisis response teams or the functions of any other regional crisis service.
- The NSPL Lifeline crisis centers will continue to operate their services in accordance with NSPL Lifeline standards and connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as usual.
Services will be available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 250 languages. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.
988 will not replace any crisis call centers in Washington state. It is an addition to the state’s network of crisis center providers. The current NSPL number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will remain active along with 988.