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 the 988 dialing code 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 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). It will be confidential, free, and available 24/7/365.

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 1-800-273-8255.

You can dial 988 if you are having:

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Mental health crises
  • Substance use concerns
  • 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 does not replace any crisis call centers in Washington state. It is an addition to the state’s network of crisis center providers. The ten-digit NSPL number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is still active along with 988.

For questions about the 988 program, 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 988.

About 988

  • 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 is still active. You can dial either 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 988.
  • 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. Those who are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support can also dial 988.
  • People contacting 988 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.
  • 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 NSPL crisis centers will continue to operate according to NSPL standards and will connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as they have always done.

Washington will launch the Native and Strong Lifeline, dedicated to serving those affiliated with Washington’s Native American and Alaska Native communities who call 988. The Native and Strong Lifeline is a service of the Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub. The Hub is a statewide central resource to meet the needs of the Tribal-affiliated community and coordinates with Tribal agencies, healthcare professionals, hospitals, and in-and outpatient programs. For more information, please see NativeAndStrong.org and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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 by Governor Jay Inslee 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 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 NSPL 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 988 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.

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

What happens when I call 988?

When calling 988, callers first hear a greeting message while their call is routed to the local NSPL network crisis center (based on the caller’s area code). A trained crisis counselor answers the phone, listens to the caller, understands how their problem is affecting them, provides support, and shares resources if needed. If the local crisis center is unable to take the call, the caller is automatically routed to a national backup crisis center. The NSPL provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages for people who call 988.

For more information about call routing, see this 988 infographic.

When did 988 go live nationally?

July 16, 2022. The 988 dialing code is 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?

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 NSPL 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 988 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 988 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 988 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 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. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recognizes the importance and the expectation of privacy when a person contacts 988. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.

Is 988 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 988 funded?

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

The President’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request provides additional funding for the NSPL 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.

In which languages are 988 services available?

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.

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

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

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.