988: The Suicide Prevention and Crisis Hotline
On July 16, 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline was established and became available to all landline and cell phone users as a federally mandated crisis number for individuals who are suicidal or experiencing a behavioral health emergency. The hotline is designed to provide 24/7 free and confidential emotional support for those in mental distress across the U.S. The number connects the person to a certified crisis center near them within a network of 200 local crisis centers. Individuals can call, text, or chat 988. Trained counselors can listen to those in distress, provide support, and connect them to necessary resources. The three-digit number is meant to help individuals remember in times of crisis. It is also meant to help people in mental distress get urgent help much faster than dialing 911, which generally connects callers to law enforcement agencies rather than mental health counselors.
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Frequently Asked Questions About 988
The 988 crisis line it’s still relatively new and aims to provide direct, lifesaving services to those in mental health crises. Feeling apprehensive or anxious about calling the helpline is normal. Answering some frequently asked questions about what to expect when calling 988 may help relieve some anxieties and help those struggling mentally get the help they need.
What Is the 988 Crisis Line?
The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is a 24/7 number you can call, text, or chat with to access trained crisis counselors. They can help individuals experiencing substance abuse, suicide, mental health crises, or any other kind of emotional distress. The number is also available for people worried about a loved one who may need crisis support and guides on how to help them.
What Happens When You Call the Suicide Hotline?
When you call 988, you will first hear a greeting message while your call is routed to a local crisis center near your area code. A trained crisis counselor will answer your call, listen to your issues, understand why the problem may affect you, provide support, and share resources if needed. If the local crisis center cannot take your call, the caller will automatically be routed to a national backup crisis center. You can talk to counselors in English and Spanish and access a translation service for over 250 additional languages.
Can You Call the Hotline Just to Talk?
Individuals can call to discuss mental or physical illness, relationship problems, substance abuse help, financial problems, physical or sexual abuse, anxiety, or sexual identity. Counselors may ask you questions to better understand your concerns and provide you with the most effective resources to help.
Does the Suicide Hotline Charge You?
No, the crisis line is free of charge and available 24/7 to calls in multiple languages, chats, or text (English only). Crisis counselors provide support and services for those who use their assistance at no cost. However, standard data rates from your telecommunication provider may still apply.
Can I Call the Suicide Hotline if I’m Not Suicidal?
Anyone can call the crisis lifeline whether they are thinking about suicide or not and get emotional support. The lifeline is also meant to help and support people in emotional distress. In some cases, people need someone to talk to in those cases. Whether you are suicidal or not, call the lifeline if you need to lean on someone for emotional support.
If you are contemplating suicide, worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the lifeline network is available 24/7 across the country. Call, text, or chat by dialing 988.
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