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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number Changes to ‘988’

 The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline logoAs of July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has switched to a three-digit number: 988.

In 2020 Congress passed legislation – “The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act” – that provided for changing the accessibility of the national mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline from its previous 10-digit number (1-800-273-8255), to just three digits: 988. This is in line with other crisis support, such as 911, 211 or other helplines. Through this new system, the hope is that more individuals will have access to appropriate crisis stabilization and mental health support. 

How does 988 work?

When someone calls, texts, or chats 988, they are connected to a trained crisis counselor from a local agency that provides mental health and suicide prevention support. In St. Louis County, St. Louis city, and Jefferson County, Behavioral Health Response (BHR) is the local agency that supports 988. Provident Behavioral Health serves as a back-up call center. 

  • 988 is a confidential, free resource available 24/7/365 to connect those experienceing a mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. 
  • 988 will be available via call, text or chat. 
  • 988 call services will be available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in more than 150 languages.

Why is 988 so important? 

A nationwide suicide prevention and mental health lifeline makes a statement that mental health care is a cornerstone of a well person. Calling a crisis line can mean that a person receives appropriate, less restrictive and more effective long-term mental health care. In our current system, law enforcement, emergency and/or hospital systems are frequently used as frontline responses to mental health crises. These systems are overburdened, often not extensively trained in mental health and costly to the system and the individual. 

With 988, a trained professional can talk to a person when they need it the most. An effective helpline can provide life-saving connection, resources, referrals and follow-up. 

Prevention works. Please spread the word and help end the stigma toward those seeking mental health help. 

Starting July 16: If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, please call 988 for support and resources. For information or access to additional resources, please check out the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.