National Suicide 988 Crisis Hotline will be launched soon
The three-digit calling code will be released on July 16.
The new three-digit call code for Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 9-8-8, was recently launched. The line is live on Saturday, July 16.
988 connects people experiencing mental health issues to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) via call, text or chat to access care and support.
while 988 is the newest edition to Washington’s network of crisis center providers, it will not replace any existing crisis call centers in the state.
“Just as 911 transformed our ability to respond to health or safety emergencies, 988 will transform our ability to connect people to help in mental health and behavioral crisis situations,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a July 15 news release.
988 was made possible by the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. It is the first in a series of expansions for NSPL services and includes support from House Bill 1477 that was signed by Inslee last year.
HB 1477 Expands Washington’s behavioral health crisis response system and suicide prevention services. It also designates the Washington Department of Health (DOH) and the Health Care Authority (HCA) to serve as lead agencies, in addition to a new 988 Coordinator position in the Governor’s Office.
The phased rollout of the multi-year changes includes increasing options for youth and adults to receive help while experiencing crisis and strengthening the state’s ability to provide culturally, geographically and linguistically appropriate services.
Veterans and service members can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing “1” after dialing 9-8-8. In the near term, Washington plans to launch a strong Native Lifeline, which will be dedicated to serving Washington and Alaska Native individuals.
The DOH and HCA expect an increase in call volume. To deal with this expected increase, NSPL crisis centers have increased recruitment and recruitment efforts, trained more than 132 people to provide advice and support to the 988 program. They expect to hire about 20 additional positions.
“Providing an easy-to-remember three-digit number is an important step toward accessing life-saving support,” Health Secretary Dr. Umair A. Shah said in a press release. “We are dedicated to improving and expanding behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for all Washingtonians.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health distress, call 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.