988 Lifeline

What Is 988?
A direct three-digit line to trained National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors will open the door for millions of Americans to seek the help they need while sending the message to the country that healing, hope, and help are happening every day. In 2020, Lifeline received nearly 2.4 million calls. With an easy-to-remember and dial number like 988, Lifeline hopes to reach many more people in emotional

A 988 crisis line that is effectively resourced and promoted will be able to:

  • Connect a person in a mental health crisis to a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs and help connect them to ongoing care.
  • Reduce healthcare spending with more cost-effective early intervention.
  • Reduce use of law enforcement, public health, and other safety resources.
  • Meet the growing need for crisis intervention at scale.

Help end stigma toward those seeking or accessing mental healthcare. When you’ve got a police, fire or rescue emergency, you call 911.

When you have an urgent mental health need, you’ll call 988.

Lifeline Crisis Centers are Effective

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress across the United States. The Lifeline is administered by the nonprofit Vibrant Emotional Health and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Lifeline is effective in reducing suicidal and emotional distress.

Evaluations and caller feedback show that Lifeline counselors are effective in reducing caller distress and suicidality, and help tens of thousands of people get through crises every day.

Since launching in 2005, the Lifeline call volume has increased approximately 14% annually. In 2005, the first year of the Lifeline, it answered over 46,000 calls. In 2020, Lifeline received nearly 2.4 million calls. The Lifeline is a network of over 180 accredited crisis call centers.

Crisis centers are local and connected to their community resources, community mental health, hospitals, social service and first responders. All Lifeline centers are accredited, provide extensive training in crisis intervention and suicide prevention, and must apply Lifeline’s best practices on calls.

These same crisis centers continue to answer more than 12.1 million additional non-Lifeline crisis calls on their local, city, county and state crisis lines. The current Lifeline grant is not designed to fund the centers answering local Lifeline calls.

The Lifeline and Vibrant Emotional Health currently provide the following support to the national network for local crisis call centers:

  • Route calls through the network to a local crisis center or national backup center and pays for incoming call charges.
  • Sets clinical standards and sector-wide best practices, and provides constant quality assurance, training, assessments, and guidelines to ensure quality, effective help for people in crisis.
  • Runs state-of-the-art technology to ensure responsiveness, including online 24/7 chat platform technologies.
  • Provides specialty national services for the network, such as: national backup centers; Lifeline’s crisis chat centers; and Lifeline’s Spanish-speaking subnetwork, translation services and accessibility options for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. 
  • Provides grants to temporarily support some states to answer more Lifeline calls until they can sustain their own funding, and one-time planning grants to help state agencies and centers plan and prepare for 988.

Lifeline and its partner, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, work closely with state officials to promote awareness and approaches for successfully funding local Lifeline crisis centers.