988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Partner Toolkit (PDF) is now available. This toolkit contains resources, messaging, and social media creatives that you can use to share 988 Lifeline information with your audiences. This toolkit has social media post and images in English and Spanish.

Call, text, or chat 988 to be connected to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365. The ten-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is still active along with 988.

Contact the 988 Lifeline if you are having:

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

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

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline License Plate Emblem

The general public may purchase a suicide prevention license plate emblem that supports the Veteran and Military Member Suicide Prevention Account at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Visit the Department of Licensing website to order an emblem. Learn more on the DVA Suicide Prevention Emblem webpage.

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Example of Washington state license plate with 988 lifeline emblem

988 Lifeline services are 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 988.

988 does not replace any crisis call centers in Washington state. It is an addition to the state’s network of crisis center providers. There are no changes to dispatch for Designated Crisis Responders and mobile crisis response teams or the functions of any other regional crisis service. The 988 Lifeline crisis centers continue to operate according to national standards and will connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as they have always done.

For questions about the 988 program at the Washington State Department of Health, please email 988ProgramInfo@doh.wa.gov. Do not use this inbox if you or someone you know needs crisis support. Instead, call, text, or chat the 988 Lifeline.

About the 988 Lifeline

  • You can call, text, or chat the 988 Lifeline from your cell phone, land line, or voice-over internet devices.
  • When you contact the 988 Lifeline, you will be connected to a trained counselor at a 988 Lifeline crisis center.
  • The Lifeline is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting anyone experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis with a trained crisis counselor. If you are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support, you can also contact the 988 Lifeline.
  • People contacting the 988 Lifeline are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. Calls may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance or training purposes. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.

988 Lifeline Services for Certain Populations

If you are a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, dial 988 and press 1 to be connected to the Veterans Crisis Line. You can also chat online or text 838255.The Veterans Crisis Line serves Veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and those who support them. You don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to call.

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Native and Strong Lifeline logo

The Native and Strong Lifeline is the first program of its kind in the nation dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native people. Operated by Volunteers of America Western Washington, this line is available for people who call the 988 Lifeline and choose option 4. It is specifically for Washington’s American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Calls are answered by Native crisis counselors who are tribal members and descendants closely tied to their communities. Native and Strong Lifeline counselors are fully trained in crisis intervention and support, with special emphasis on cultural and traditional practices related to healing.

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Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub logo

The Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub is a statewide central resource line developed to meet the needs of tribes and tribally affiliated people who may need help navigating the complex behavioral health system. The Hub assists tribal agencies, health care professionals, hospitals, and in- and outpatient programs as well as families and individuals. For more information, call the Hub directly at 1-866-491-1683.

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.

The Washington Legislature passed House Bill 1477 (E2SHB 1477) (PDF) to support the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline plus enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for everyone in Washington state. E2SHB 1477 is also known as the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act. E2SHB 1477 was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 13, 2021.

E2SHB 1477 also established the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee and Steering Committee. These committees will develop 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 988 Lifeline crisis centers that answer 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 does the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline replace it?

NSPL is a national network of local, independent, and state-funded crisis centers. They are equipped to respond and help people in emotional distress or experiencing thoughts of suicide.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline does not replace the ten-digit NSPL phone number but provides another, easier way for people to reach more crisis centers. You can contact either the 988 Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected.

What happens when I call 988?

When you call 988, you’ll hear an automated greeting message that features additional options (option 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line, option 2 for the Spanish Line, and option 4 for the Native and Strong Lifeline). You can remain on the line so your call will be routed to a local 988 Lifeline crisis center (based on your area code). A trained crisis counselor will answer the phone. This person will listen to you, work to understand what you’re experiencing, provide support, and collaborate with you on ways to feel better and connect you with any needed help or resources. If the local crisis center is unable to take the call, you’ll be automatically routed to a national backup crisis center. Live 988 Lifeline services are available in English and Spanish and use Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 988.

For more information about how a 988 Lifeline call is routed, see this infographic.

When did the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline go live nationally?

July 16, 2022. The 988 dialing code is now available nationwide.

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

How is 988 different than 911?
The 988 Lifeline 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. The 988 number provides easier access to the NSPL network of crisis centers and 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 988 Lifeline 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 988 Lifeline do not require any additional interventions at that moment. Currently, fewer than two percent of 988 calls, texts, and chats require emergency services, like 911. While some safety and health issues may warrant a response from law enforcement and/or EMS (like when a suicide attempt is in progress), the 988 Lifeline coordinated response is intended to promote stabilization and care in the least restrictive manner.

Will 988 Lifeline calls be referred to 911?
A small percentage of 988 Lifeline 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.
Will my call to 988 be recorded?

The 988 Lifeline 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.

People contacting the 988 Lifeline are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.

Is the 988 Lifeline available for substance use concerns?
Yes, you can dial 988 for substance use concerns, however, in case of an overdose emergency, call 911 and administer naloxone.
How is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline funded?

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

The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request provides additional funding for the 988 Lifeline 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 Lifeline operations.

E2SHB 1477 is further funded by a tax on Washington’s phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines.

In which languages are 988 Lifeline services available?

Live 988 Lifeline services are available in English and Spanish and use Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages. Text and chat are currently available in English only.
Does the 988 Lifeline accommodate those who are hard of hearing or blind?
The 988 Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 988. The 988 Lifeline also offers services through chat and text. The network is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the 988 Lifeline.

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 the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Resources

Crisis Numbers

988 Resources

Some of these resources are available in other languages. Use the orange language selector button at the top of this page to find resources in your language.