988 – The New Number for Mental Health Crisis, Nationwide
Free, Confidential Support 24/7 by Phone, Text, or Chat
Call or text 988, or chat online at www.988lifeline.org/chat
Lines for Life is the home of 988 in Oregon, fielding most calls and texts from Oregon area codes. We also act as a nationwide backup center for 988, ensuring quick responses when other call centers experience high call volume.
Advantages of 988
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is:
- Easy to remember
- Fast access to help
- Safety & de-escalation focused
- Raises awareness and reduces stigma of calling for help
- Avoids police/ambulance response unless necessary
- Sets clinical standards to ensure high quality, effective help for people in crisis
- Provides constant quality assurance and training to improve call center performance
- Deploys and sustains the state-of-the-art telecommunications software and hardware to ensure responsiveness
- Constantly evaluates performance to identify areas of opportunity and risk
The Future of Crisis Response
988 brings transformational improvements to crisis response nationwide – and Lines for Life is preparing to be part of these changes in Oregon and beyond.
Here are some improvements we, along with our national partners, are hoping to implement in the first years of 988:
- Integrate 911 system information to better localize support for callers.
- Build and grow networks of Mobile Crisis Response teams, who can provide in-person support for callers who need it and ease reliance on law enforcement.
- Connect callers to available respite centers and/or long-term mental healthcare.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should someone contact 988?
Those who are struggling and need support can reach out anytime. We also accept calls from third parties concerned about someone else who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
We’re here 24/7 for anyone who needs support around mental health, substance use, or thoughts of suicide.
What kind of support is provided?
When someone contacts 988, we…
- Listen without judgement
- Help the contact get through this moment
- Share resources as needed
When in-person support or intervention is needed, counselors work with the caller to dispatch a mobile crisis team or first responder.
Why a 3-digit number?
988 is a three-digit dialing code to reach help fast in mental health crisis – think 911 for the brain. When there’s a police, fire, or rescue emergency, you call 911. When there’s a mental health emergency, you call 988. The old Lifeline number still routes to the 988 network.
How does 988 work?
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline routes to a network of over 160 call centers throughout the United States that currently help over 2.2 million people in crisis every year.
The Lifeline uses the area code of a call/chat number to route the contact to a center in that region.
What training do crisis counselors receive?
In addition to adhering to nationwide standards for training set by the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline accreditation agency, each Lifeline crisis center trains their call counselors to meet community needs.
Before they begin the life-changing work of supporting contacts through crisis, Lines for Life staff complete 200 hours of training in crisis de-escalation, suicide and substance use prevention, and what to do when a contact needs in-person intervention.
While most of these skills are universal, Lines for Life recognizes that crisis intervention practices must be adjusted to meet the specific needs of different communities and demographics.
We regularly invite guest speakers to train our staff on special topics in crisis care and ways to better support specific populations. Our call counselors have unique opportunities to continue learning and building their crisis intervention skills. Read more about our Equity & Cultural Engagement Initiatives, which support communities of color in building culturally responsive support.
Is the Lifeline available in other languages for non-English speakers?
Yes. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has a Spanish Language line at 1-888-628-9454. Tele-Interpreters are also available, which support over 150 languages.
Are Lifeline Chat communications secure?
The confidentiality and security of chats are ensured through the Lifeline chat software provider, which uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other. Communications are securely encrypted from your computer to ours.
Does the Lifeline have geolocation capabilities or the ability to trace callers, texters, or chatters?
The Lifeline does not directly geolocate or trace callers, chat or text users in the same way that 911 providers do. The Lifeline attempts to route callers to the nearest center to them in the network using their area code to determine the most proximal center. This routing is imprecise because most people seek help through mobile devices and may be in a location different than their area code. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governing body that determines geolocation capabilities.
How does the Lifeline treat confidential information?
All contacts with the Lifeline from people seeking help are to be treated as confidential by the Lifeline and Lifeline network centers. This means that information about callers/chatters/texters will not be shared outside the Lifeline without documented verbal or written consent from the person seeking help, except in cases where there is imminent risk of harm to self or someone else, or where otherwise required by law.
How many people call the Lifeline?
Last year, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline answered over 2.2 million calls, texts, and chats from people in crisis. With 988, the Lifeline expects to reach millions more.
How does 988 cut health care costs?
First responder / 911 response and emergency room visits are the most expensive ways to treat crisis. A typical 911 call results in thousands of dollars in cost to taxpayers – the dispatcher and system, the first responder personnel, and often resulting hospitalization typically run in the thousands of dollars.
Call centers in the Lifeline already divert hundreds of thousands of calls from 911 every year – many call centers de-escalate as many as 95% of their suicidal callers, meaning that only a few require the costly intervention of emergency services.
And Lifeline calls cost a fraction of a 911 call – in 2018, the average Lifeline call cost just $25, as compared to the thousands of dollars in cost to respond to a crisis with 911 and first responders.
Lifeline call centers will divert millions of calls from 911 – saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Have additional questions? Visit the FAQ on the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline website.
For press and media inquiries, please contact Donna Harrell, Director of Communications, at [email protected].