Calling the 988 Lifeline
What do I do if I have trouble connecting when I call?
We work hard to make sure that everyone can reach a crisis center as quickly as possible. If you call 988 and are having trouble reaching a crisis counselor, please let us know using our Contact Us form (available in the left sidebar). If you are in a medical emergency or suicidal crisis and you cannot connect, please call 911.
Does the 988 Lifeline feature TTY services for the hearing impaired?
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Is the 988 Lifeline available in other languages for non-English speakers?
The 988 Lifeline offers Spanish call, text, and chat services. To connect with a Spanish-speaking crisis counselor, dial 988 and press 2. Additionally, the 988 Lifeline offers an interpretation service in over 240 languages and dialects through the call option to 988, increasing accessibility to many people wishing to use the line. Interpreting services are available 24/7 and the average time to be connected to an interpreter is only 17 seconds. This service allows callers to comfortably connect with crisis counselors in their preferred language outside of English.
To connect with an interpreter, callers can dial 988 and ask for one in English if they are able, or they can simply say the name of the language they need to prompt the crisis counselor to get an interpreter on the line. Our interpreting service can also assist crisis counselors in identifying the needed language if the crisis counselor is unsure. Individuals requiring interpreting services may also have someone else who is more proficient in English coordinate an interpreter with their crisis counselor on their behalf.
Interpreters receive special training to provide effective interpretation over the telephone and follow a code of ethics that includes requirements related to confidentiality, accuracy, and impartiality. Interpretation is only available through calling 988, it is not yet available for our text and chat service.
Are there specialized services for LGBTQI+ youth who reach out to 988?
Yes. In fall 2022, the 988 Lifeline began a pilot program to offer specialized call, text, and chat supports for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQI+) youth and young adults. The program aims to support people under the age of 25 who reach out to the 988 Lifeline and want the option of connecting with a crisis counselor specifically focused on meeting the needs of LGBTQI+ youth and young adults. The specialized services are currently available by text and chat daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern Time and 24/7 by calling until capacity is built up to offer all services 24/7.
Can the 988 Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line also be reached by dialing 1-800-SUICIDE?
Yes. All calls from 1-800-SUICIDE have been routed through the 988 Lifeline network since March 2007. Callers to 1-800-SUICIDE are now being routed through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers across the nation, the same network that responds to 988 callers in crisis.
Will the 988 Lifeline number appear on my phone bill?
Whether the 988 Lifeline phone number will appear on your phone bill depends on your phone carrier. Please contact your phone carrier to ask how 1-800 toll-free numbers will appear on your phone bill.
Is the 988 Lifeline service still available in a state or an area that does not have a crisis center participating in the 988 Lifeline network?
Yes, the 988 Lifeline itself covers all areas of the country, even if there is no local crisis center participating in that area. It is our goal to have calls answered as locally as possible, so we are working on developing relationships in areas where there are no crisis centers in the network.
How do you determine which area each 988 Lifeline crisis center serves?
Each of the crisis centers that participate in the 988 Lifeline informs us of their capabilities in terms of number of phone lines, staffing, and geographic coverage areas, which helps in the development of the routing plan. Crisis centers are not asked to cover areas they do not feel capable of covering. Many provide services in their direct areas as well as statewide or nationwide, while others may serve local counties and provide backup for a neighboring crisis center.
How do I submit a complaint, compliment, or other feedback about my experience calling the 988 Lifeline?
You can share your feedback with us directly by using our 988 Lifeline Contact Us Form. You can find it at 988lifeline.org/contact-the-lifeline/.
How can I retrieve information about a call I or someone I know made to the 988 Lifeline?
Due to the 988 Lifeline being a confidential service, we are not able to provide information about or records of any phone calls made to the hotline without a court order. To send a court order for release of information, please use the 988 Lifeline’s “Contact Us” form for further direction.
The 988 Lifeline greeting states that calls may be recorded for quality assurance, evaluation, or training purposes. What does this mean?
At the 988 Lifeline, we value the confidentiality of our callers. Crisis centers in the 988 Lifeline network may independently utilize call recordings for quality assurance and training purposes, dependent on the best practices of the center. This message is part of our greeting in order to let our callers know that they may be recorded by the local crisis center.
Can an organization that's not a crisis center warm transfer a caller at risk of suicide to the 988 Lifeline number?
We encourage any organization to let a person at risk know about the 988 Lifeline number and encourage them to call us directly. The safety of callers transferred to us can be complicated by geography and technological issues so we recommend against doing so. If your organization regularly comes into contact with individuals at risk for suicide and might have an ongoing need to assure callers at risk get connected safely from your organization to the 988 Lifeline, please complete the 988 Lifeline Contact Us Form at 988lifeline.org/contact-the-lifeline/.
Texting the 988 Lifeline
Who should text the 988 Lifeline?
Anyone who is struggling can use this service, whether it be someone who is depressed, needs to talk, or is contemplating suicide. The crisis counselors are here to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing.
How do I text the 988 Lifeline?
To start a text conversation with the 988 Lifeline, you can send any message to 988.
What happens when I text the 988 Lifeline?
First, you’ll see a wait-time message while we connect you to a crisis counselor. If demand is high, you can always look at our “Helpful Resources” below, or call the Lifeline at 988. A crisis counselor will answer your text. This person will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share resources that may be helpful.
Can I text with the 988 Lifeline in my preferred language?
988 Lifeline Crisis Chat and Text is currently only available in English and Spanish. To connect with the 988 Lifeline in Spanish, text AYUDA to 988.
If you need support in a language other than English or Spanish, please call 988.
When are 988 Lifeline text services available?
988 Lifeline text services are offered 24/7, 7 days a week. If you are having trouble connecting, we encourage you to call the 988 Lifeline at 988.
Are all 988 Lifeline text communications secure and confidential?
The confidentiality and security of transcripts and any data collected during chats and texts are ensured through the 988 Lifeline chat and text software provider, which uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other.
What do I do if nobody answers?
If the service appears offline or busy, please call the 988 Lifeline at 988 or chat with us. We are available 24/7. If you or someone you know is in danger or needs immediate medical attention, please call 911.
988 Lifeline Chat
Who should use the 988 Lifeline Chat service?
Anyone who is depressed, going through a hard time, needs to talk, or is thinking about suicide can use the chat. The crisis counselors are here to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing.
What should I expect during a 988 Lifeline Chat session?
Our goal is to help you reduce stress and feel empowered to make healthy decisions. You will be asked questions regarding your safety, feelings, social situation, and if you have any thoughts of suicide. If a crisis counselor feels you are in danger they will speak with you about accessing emergency services, and/or gather additional contact information to ensure your safety. The crisis counselor will work with you to create a safety plan if necessary.
When is 988 Lifeline Chat available?
The 988 Lifeline Chat service is available 24/7. If you have trouble connecting to the chat service we encourage you to call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Are all 988 Lifeline Chat communications secure and confidential?
The confidentiality and security of chats are ensured through the 988 Lifeline chat software provider, which uses the same encryption and data protection standards required by major financial institutions to transact business with each other. All of your communications are securely encrypted from your computer to ours.
How do I submit a complaint, compliment, or other feedback about my experience with 988 Lifeline Chat?
You can share your feedback with us directly by using our 988 Lifeline Contact Us Form. You can find it at https://988lifeline.org/contact-the-lifeline/
What is 988 and is it active?
988 is now active across the United States. This new, shorter phone number will make it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services. (Please note, the previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will continue to function indefinitely.) Click here to learn more about 988.
Will the 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number be disconnected?
988 is the new phone number for an existing service: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Moving to 988 does not mean the 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number goes away. After July 16, 2022, dialing either phone number will reach the Lifeline. 988 is an easier-to-remember number for people to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers.
Does the 988 Lifeline have geolocation capabilities?
The 988 Lifeline does not currently have the capability to directly geolocate callers, chat or text users in the same way that 911 providers do. The 988 Lifeline does attempt to route callers to the nearest center to them in the network using their area code to determine the most proximal center. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governing body that determines geolocation capabilities.
Does the 988 Lifeline trace callers, texters, or chatters?
The 988 Lifeline does not currently have the capability to directly “trace” callers, chat, or text users in the same way that 911 providers do. The 988 Lifeline does attempt to route callers to the nearest center to them in the network using their area code to determine the most proximal center. However, this routing is imprecise because most people seek help through mobile devices and may be in a location different than their area code. In the atypical situations where emergency services must be contacted to prevent persons from seriously or fatally harming themselves, and the person is unwilling or unable to share their location information, 988 Lifeline crisis counselors must provide what information they have to 911 operators–the caller’s/text user’s phone number or the chat user’s IP address–to enable them to do whatever they can to locate the individual. However, as noted, this information–phone numbers and IP addresses–is often not accurate in describing the individual’s actual location, hindering both the connection of the individual in crisis to the nearest 988 Lifeline center as well as responding to life-threatening emergencies.
Does Vibrant use police intervention for callers, texters, and chatters to the 988 Lifeline?
988 Lifeline crisis centers are more than just a connection to local resources. 988 Lifeline crisis centers are a proven and effective crisis intervention – both independently and as part of the crisis continuum. The 988 Lifeline recommends crisis counselors contact emergency services (911, police, sheriff) for assistance only in cases where risk of harm to self or others is imminent or in progress, and when a less invasive plan for the caller/texter’s safety cannot be collaborated on with the individual. Less than two percent of 988 Lifeline calls involve emergency services. When emergency services are involved, over half of these emergency dispatches occur with the caller’s consent. We recognize that, for some individuals, having contact with emergency services can be traumatic and dangerous, and whenever possible we recommend alternate options such as collaborating on a safety plan, utilizing mobile crisis teams, collaborating with the individual’s loved ones or professionals, or supporting the individual to get to a Crisis Stabilization Unit, emergency department, or urgent care. For more information on our imminent risk policy, please visit this page.
What does "confidential" mean when saying contacting the line is free and confidential?
All contacts with the 988 Lifeline from people seeking help are to be treated as confidential by the 988 Lifeline and 988 Lifeline network centers. This means that information about callers/chatters/texters will not be shared outside the 988 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. It’s important to remember that confidential and anonymous are not synonymous. During your contact with the 988 Lifeline you may voluntarily share certain information about yourself that could be identified and that information may be documented in notes about your conversation. The center may also have access to the phone number or IP address you used to contact the 988 Lifeline. You will never be required to provide other identifying information to receive help from the 988 Lifeline. We rigorously protect all the confidential and identifying information shared with the 988 Lifeline. We may use de-identified and aggregated data for reports to stakeholders, funders, and policymakers about the numbers and types of conversations we have with people in crisis, and the general aggregate demographics of people seeking help from the 988 Lifeline.
What training does the 988 Lifeline provide network crisis counselors?
Current requirements are for each center in the network to develop their own training curriculum that incorporates the 988 Lifeline’s clinical requirements, meets their center and community’s specific local needs, and addresses the training requirements of their chosen accrediting body/bodies. These include making sure that the training program instructs crisis counselors to assess safety/risk in a way that aligns with 988 Lifeline Suicide Safety Assessment standards, and that centers train their crisis counselors to address all of the 988 Lifeline required policies related to working with callers, chatters, and texters.
The 988 Lifeline launched an online learning portal in November 2022 with a core clinical curriculum to support crisis centers across the country and ensure that anyone who contacts the 988 Lifeline receives consistent, effective, research-based support from any crisis counselor. This curriculum provides foundational information. The 988 Lifeline’s online courses will supplement the crisis counselor training that centers currently provide their staff and volunteers. In addition, the 988 Lifeline offers several other educational resources to support centers with their training needs, including interactive simulation trainings, a Safety Assessment informational website, and a Network Resource website filled with guidance documents, tip sheets, and archived webinars on a wide variety of clinical and operational topics.
Promoting or Joining the Lifeline
Can I use the 988 Lifeline logo in my campaign/website/poster?
Absolutely! The 988 Lifeline is a public service and our logo is available for anyone to use. You do not need to ask for permission, though we ask that you do not alter the logo in any way. Please visit our Media Resources page or click the Download Logos button in the left sidebar to get logos.
Do you have 988 Lifeline materials that I can order?
Yes. 988 Lifeline posters, wallet cards, and other print materials can be ordered through the SAMHSA website at www.store.samhsa.gov. PDF versions are also available at the SAMHSA website. All orders must be placed via the SAMHSA store – the 988 Lifeline does not take orders or ship print materials directly.
Can I link to the 988 Lifeline website through my organization's website or my personal website?
We encourage all organizations interested in promoting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to provide a link to www.988lifeline.org on their own websites. Logos are available on our Media Resources page.
How can our crisis center or mental health service organization join the 988 Lifeline network?
Consideration for joining the network is based on a number of factors. Our goal is to have sufficient coverage and capacity by crisis centers in the network so that callers may be routed to local crisis centers that will provide crisis intervention, information, and referral according to callers’ needs. Visit the Join the Network page to learn more.
How do I volunteer or get a job at the 988 Lifeline?
The 988 Lifeline is made up of a national network of crisis centers. You can find a list of current network job listings here. For more information, you can visit the Participate page, or visit the Our Network page to find your local center.
I'm a reporter/journalist doing a story on the 988 Lifeline. Who is your press contact?
Please send all press inquiries regarding the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to Divendra Jaffar at [email protected].
Fundraising and Donations
How can I donate to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or Disaster Distress Helpline?
By Mail: Vibrant Emotional Health, Attn: Development, 50 Broadway, 19th Floor New York, NY 10004. Donate to Vibrant Emotional Health online: www.vibrant.org/donate, donate to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline online: www.988lifeline.org/donate or donate to the Disaster Distress Helpline online: www.facebook.com/distresshelpline.
Please contact [email protected].
If I donate, do I receive a receipt?
When donating online through our websites or through Facebook, an automatic receipt will be sent to the email you provide. Donations received via check or wire, will receive a receipt through the mail. Please allow a few weeks for processing.
Can I donate for or on behalf of someone else?
Donors may contribute in memory or in honor of someone, with the option to request that a notification be sent to the individual, either via email or through the mail. Please allows us a few weeks to process these.
Do you accept donations on Facebook?
We gratefully accept donations made through our 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, national Disaster Distress Helpline, and Vibrant Emotional Health Facebook pages. However, please note that we do not have access the details of the donation, so are unable to provide technical assistance. We are able to assist with any donations made directly through our websites, mailed checks, and wire transfers.
I need a refund for a donation I made via Facebook. Can you do this?
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, Disaster Distress Helpline, and Vibrant Emotional Health are unable to cancel, change or provide refunds for gifts made through Facebook as we do not have access to Facebook’s fundraising system. If you would like to request a refund, or would like to make a change to your donation, please contact Facebook Payment Support on this page: https://www.facebook.com/help/738034692937865?helpref=uf_permalink
Who do I contact if I have a question about my donation that's not answered on this page?
If you have any further questions, you may contact Vibrant Emotional Health’s Development Team at [email protected].