988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline

As of July 16, 2022, you can call, text, or chat 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). It will be confidential, free, and available 24/7/365. 988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotion distress.

People can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

Read below for frequently asked questions about 988, as well as information about the 988 Planning Coalition that was established in Mississippi.

Frequently Asked Questions

In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sees 988 as a first step towards a transformed crisis care system in America. NSPL is a national network of over 180 local, independent, and state-funded crisis centers. They are equipped to respond and help people in emotional distress or experiencing thoughts of suicide.

988 will not replace the NSPL phone number but will provide another, easier way for people to reach more crisis centers. You can call either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected.

July 16, 2022. The 988 dialing code will be available nationwide. Until then, those experiencing a mental health emergency should continue to reach NSPL at its current number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and through online chat.

Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (or 988 starting July 16), chatting online, or texting 838255.

988 was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 will provide easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911. 911’s focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire, and police as needed.

The primary goal of the NSPL is to provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress in the moments they most need it, and in a manner which is centered on the person in crisis.

The vast majority of those seeking help from the NSPL do not require any additional interventions at that moment. Currently, fewer than two percent of NSPL calls require emergency services, like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or EMS (namely when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.

A small percentage of NSPL calls require activation of the 911 system when there is imminent risk to someone’s life that cannot be reduced during the call. In these cases, the crisis counselor shares information with 911 that is crucial to saving the caller’s life.

The NSPL greeting states that calls may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes. Additionally, crisis centers in the NSPL network may independently use call recordings for training purposes, dependent on the best practices of the center.

It’s also important to note that people contacting 988 are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. SAMHSA recognizes the importance and the expectation of privacy when a person contacts 988. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy

Yes, you can dial 988 for substance use crises, however, in case of an overdose emergency, call 911 and administer naloxone.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) views 988 as an opportunity to transform the country’s behavioral health crisis system to respond to anyone in need

The Lifeline currently provides live crisis center calling services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages. Text and chat are currently available in English only.

 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five US adults experience a mental illness each year, and 431,000 adults in Mississippi have a mental health condition. On average, 1 person in the U.S. dies by suicide every 11 minutes. In Mississippi, 421 lives were lost to suicide and 107,000 adults had thoughts of suicide in the last year.

In August 2019, FCC staff—in consultation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the North American Numbering Council—released a report recommending the use of 988 as the 3-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In July 2020, the FCC adopted rules designating this new phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The transition will result in phone service providers directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

In February 2021, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) announced the receipt of $125,000 in funding toward planning for the implementation of the 988 dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The grant funds have been used to help Mississippi Lifeline call centers prepare for infrastructure needs, volume growth, training and educating staff, data collection, as well as access to the Lifeline’s new 988 number. The funding comes from Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the 988 State Planning Grant.

The state of Mississippi, through the leadership of the DMH and in collaboration with other state agencies, has been on a multi-year journey to expand crisis services throughout the state and remains committed to continuing to advance the development of an integrated, coordinated crisis system of care that engages with system partners. The ultimate goal is to work tirelessly to find ways to build the crisis system so that all children/youth, adults, and families have access to crisis care when needed – a place to call, someone to respond, and a place to go.

Mississippi has 24/7 primary and backup coverage for every county in the state through its two Lifeline centers, CONTACT The Crisis Line and CONTACT Helpline. Mississippi routed 18,079 Lifeline calls between June 2020 and June 2021.

Mississippi also has mobile teams and crisis centers throughout the state. There are opportunities to continue to expand these services over time and to develop ways to facilitate seamless and efficient connectivity between crisis services and crisis system partners (e.g., 911, law enforcement, emergency departments, etc.).

The Planning Coalition for the 988 Implementation has included representatives from DMH, and representatives from the following organizations have been invited to participate as well:

  • CONTACT the Crisis Line
  • Mental Health Association
  • Mississippi College
  • NAMI Mississippi
  • Contact Helpline
  • Mississippi Division of Medicaid
  • Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department
  • Mississippi Alliance to End Suicide
  • Mississippi Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Education Development Center
  • Oxford Police Department
  • Mississippi Department of Public Safety

Participants have also included representatives from Mississippi’s Community Mental Health Centers in Region 2, Region 4, Region 6, Region 7, Region 8, Region 9, and Region 12, as well as community representatives who have lived experience with suicide. Click here for a full list of Planning Coalition members.

The Planning Coalition submitted a draft of the 988 Implementation Plan to Vibrant on September 30, 2021. The goals and action steps outlined in this 988 Implementation Plan will support Mississippi in continuing to develop an integrated coordinated crisis system of care that is available to all children/youth, adults, and families throughout Mississippi. Following are some highlights of action steps outlined in this plan intended to develop crisis services and develop a coordinated crisis system within Mississippi:

  • Explore additional resources to close the service and funding gaps, including the use of federal and state opportunities
  • Add additional staff to the Lifeline centers to meet the anticipated demand, as funding is available
  • Expand technology to utilize the most efficient approaches and enhance the data collection and monitoring approaches
  • Support Lifeline centers in meeting the 988 operational, clinical, and training standards
  • Monitor crisis metrics to determine the responsiveness of the 988 call centers and other crisis services, so that the experience of crisis care is measured and reported on
  • Facilitate the engagement of stakeholders to implement the 988 Implementation Plan and ensures that the voices of those with lived experience are front and center
  • Work with 911 and law enforcement and other first responders to build out the coordinated crisis system
  • Develop a centralized up-to-date referral approach and advance the approach to use technology over time, addressing the unique needs of diverse populations
  • Develop crisis care work processes/flows across and between crisis services that facilitates timely, effective, and efficient services, utilizing technology where applicable
  • Develop and mobilize a marketing and communication plan to inform Mississippians and crisis system partners about the 988 crisis line

Click here to read the 988 Implementation Plan.

Click the links below to read minutes from the Planning Coalition meetings.