FINALLY…The Mental Health Crisis is Being Addressed

June 10, 2022

By Categories: News

988 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


  • The suicide rate has climbed 30% since 1999, with the rate increasing in 49 out of 50 states in the last decade.
  • From 2016-2017 alone, there was a 10% increase in suicides of people ages 15-24 in the US.
  • One in five people in the US above the age of 12 has a mental health condition.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people and the tenth leading cause of death in the US.
  • Suicide is most often preventable.  For every person who dies by suicide annually, there are 316 people who seriously consider suicide, but do not kill themselves.
  • Over 90% of people who attempt suicide go on to live out their lives.

We have 911, 411, 311, and 811 as emergency or information gathering phone numbers.  Now 988 will add to a list of emergency help.  For too long, our system of mental health has been underfunded.

What is 988?

988 is a direct three-digit line to trained National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors.  This program/phone number will open the door for millions of Americans to seek the help they need, while sending the message to the country that healing, hope an help are happening every day.

In 2020, the lifeline received nearly 2.4 million calls.  With an easy way to remember and dial 988, it is hoped to reach more people in emotional crisis.  However, this line is for more than just feeling suicidal.

We all go through struggles in life.  The 988 crisis line will be able to:

  • Connect a person in a mental health crisis to a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs and 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.


The national Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential emotional crisis to support people in emotional distress.  The Lifeline is administered by the nonprofit Vibrant Emotional Health and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Evaluations and caller feedback show that counselors are effective in reducing caller distress and help tens of thousands of people get through crises every day.  Since its launch in 2005, call volume increased 14% annually.  The first year, there were over 46,000 calls.  Today, that number is 2.4 million.


The Lifeline is a network of over 180 accredited crisis call centers.  These centers are local and connected to their community resources, community mental health, hospitals, social service, and first responders.  These crisis centers continue to answer more than 12.1 millions additional non-Lifeline crisis calls.

Once fully implemented, Lifeline centers could potentially divert calls from 911, resulting in substantial cost savings for health and safety crisis and emergency systems.  Reducing the dispatch of law enforcement to persons in non-emergency mental health crises frees more resources to respond to public safety needs, and reduces the hesitation associated with reporting mental health crises.  Emergency dispatches result from only 2% of calls.

This is set to be implemented on July 16, 2022.