Earlier this summer, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a new three-digit Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, 988. This new three-digit number is replacing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), which remains available. The goal behind creating the new three-digit code is to make accessing mental health services easier to remember during a behavioral health emergency, similar to how 911 has become synonymous with contacting the police for other emergencies.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health related distress. That includes thoughts of suicide, substance use crisis or any other kind of mental health or emotional distress. The Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers staffed with trained crisis counselors that helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. People can also use 988 if they are worried about someone else who may need crisis support.
The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses LanguageLine Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 988.
What can people expect when they reach out to 988?
- After a greeting message, callers will be routed to the local Lifeline network crisis center based on their area code.
- Veterans can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline, which serves our nation’s veterans, service members (including National Guard and Reserve members) and those who support them.
- If the local Lifeline crisis center is unable to take the call, the call is automatically routed to a national backup crisis center.
Talk Suicide Canada, formerly the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, is available 24 hours a day via phone at 1-833-456-4566 and via text at 45645 from 4 p.m. through midnight Eastern time.
- When someone texts 988, a trained crisis counselor at a group of Lifeline crisis centers will respond.
- This service will expand in the coming years as more local and state resources become available.
- Currently, texting is available in English only.
- Available through the Lifeline’s website at org/chat.
- People seeking chat services are provided a pre-chat survey before connecting with a counselor, who identifies the main area of concern.
- If there is a wait to chat with a crisis counselor, a wait-time message will appear. If demand is high, people can access the Lifeline’s online resources while they wait.
- Currently, chat is available in English only.
Whether it’s via the phone, text or chat, once connected, a trained crisis counselor listens, works to understand the problem, then provides support and shares resources that may be helpful.
To help LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, signatory contractors and members find suicide prevention resources quickly, the LHSFNA recently created our own Suicide Prevention Resources page. This page includes Fund articles, publications, videos and co-branded resources from the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The LHSFNA is committed to helping LIUNA members and their family members get connected with the resources and assistance they need and deserve.
[Jamie Becker is the Fund’s Director of Health Promotion]