988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

On 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.

Services will be available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 250 languages. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.

You can dial 988 if you are having:

  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Mental health crises.
  • Substance use crises.
  • Any other kind of emotional distress.

You can also dial 988 if you are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

988 will not replace any crisis call centers in Washington state. It is an addition to the state’s network of crisis center providers. The current NSPL number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will remain active along with 988.

For questions, please email 988ProgramInfo@doh.wa.gov.

What happens July 16, 2022?

  • When you dial 988, you will be connected to an NSPL call center.
  • You can call, text, or chat 988 on your cell phone, land line, or voice-over internet devices.
  • The 10-digit number for the NSPL will remain active. You can dial either 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 988.
  • Washington will launch a line, the Native and Strong Lifeline, dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals calling the 988 crisis line. The Native and Strong Lifeline will work in partnership with the Indian Behavioral Health Hub, a resource support line for tribes, urban Indian organizations, families and non-tribal providers who support tribal and urban Indian communities to identify resources and follow up with those accessing the 988 crisis line.
  • There will be no changes to dispatch for Designated Crisis Responders and mobile crisis response teams or the functions of any other regional crisis service.
  • The NSPL crisis centers will continue operating according to NSPL standards and will connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as they have always done.

House Bill 1477 and the Creation of 988

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. The act made 988 the new, nationwide, easy-to-remember 3-digit dialing, texting, and chat number for anyone experiencing a suicidal or mental health related crisis.

In Washington, the Legislature passed House Bill 1477 (E2SHB 1477 (PDF)) to support 988. It enhanced and expanded behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for everyone in Washington State. E2SHB 1477 was signed into law on May 13, 2021. E2SHB 1477 is also known as the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act.

E2SHB 1477 also established the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee and Steering Committee. These committees are developing recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to help implement the national 988 number and parts of E2SHB 1477. If you would like to participate as a member of the public, you can register to attend a meeting and submit public comments.

For full details, please see the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committees webpage.

A heat map of Washington state with counties colored according to the crisis call center that will answer calls from their area codes.

Crisis Call Centers

Washington has three NSPL crisis centers that handle calls from around the state:

  • Volunteers of America of Western Washington
  • Frontier Behavioral Health
  • Crisis Connections

Your call will be directed to one of these crisis centers based on the map to the right. Calls are routed by your area code.

Crisis centers are hiring caring people right now! If you are interested in a career helping people in crisis, apply for a job with an NSPL crisis center.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) and will 988 replace it?

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.

When will 988 go live nationally?

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.

How is 988 different than 911?

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.

If I call 988, will first responders, like the police or EMS, be automatically dispatched?

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.

Will 988 calls be referred to 911?

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.

Is 988 available for substance use crisis?

Yes, you can dial 988 for substance use crises. 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.

How is 988 being funded?

Congress has provided the Department of Health and Human Services workforce funding through the American Rescue Plan, some of which will support the 988 workforce.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request provides additional funding for the Lifeline itself and for other federal crisis funding sources.

At the state level, in addition to existing public/private sector funding streams, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 allows states to enact new state telecommunications fees to support 988 operations.

E2SHB1477 is further funded by a tax on Washington’s phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines.

What languages will 988 services be available in?

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.

Will 988 accommodate those who are hard of hearing or blind?

The Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Lifeline also offers services through chat and text. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the Lifeline/988.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the lead federal agency, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Vibrant Emotional Health is the National Administrator of NSPL and 988.

Resources

Crisis numbers

988 Resources