Calling the 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 worker, 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 Lifeline feature TTY services for the hearing impaired?
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
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. We also provide the Tele-Interpreters service to our crisis centers, which supports over 240 languages.
Can the 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 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 Lifeline number appear on my phone bill?
Whether the 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 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 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 Lifeline?
You can share your feedback with us directly by using our 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 Lifeline?
Due to the 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 Lifeline’s “Contact Us” form for further direction.
The Lifeline greeting states that calls may be recorded for quality assurance, evaluation, or training purposes. What does this mean?
At the Lifeline, we value the confidentiality of our callers. Crisis centers in the 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 Lifeline number?
We encourage any organization to let a person at risk know about the 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 Lifeline, please complete the Lifeline Contact Us Form at 988lifeline.org/contact-the-lifeline/.
Who should use the Lifeline Chat program?
Anyone who is depressed, going through a hard time, needs to talk, or is thinking about suicide can use the chat. The chat counselors are here to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing.
What should I expect during a 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 chat 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 chat counselor will work with you to create a safety plan if necessary.
When is Lifeline Chat available?
The Lifeline Chat service is available 24/7. If all chat counselors are busy assisting other visitors, you will be asked to try the chat again in a half hour. If you have trouble connecting to the chat service we encourage you to call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Are all Lifeline Chat communications secure and confidential?
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. 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 Lifeline Chat?
You can share your feedback with us directly by using our 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 Lifeline have geolocation capabilities?
The Lifeline does not currently have the capability to directly geolocate callers, chat or text users in the same way that 911 providers do. The 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 Lifeline trace callers, texters, or chatters?
The Lifeline does not currently have the capability to directly “trace” callers, chat or text users in the same way that 911 providers do. The 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, Lifeline 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 Lifeline center as well as responding to life-threatening emergencies.
Does Vibrant use police intervention for callers, texters, and chatters to the Lifeline?
Lifeline crisis centers are more than just a connection to local resources. Lifeline crisis centers are a proven and effective crisis intervention – both independently and as part of the crisis continuum. The 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 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 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. It’s important to remember that confidential and anonymous are not synonymous. During your contact with the 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 Lifeline. You will never be required to provide other identifying information to receive help from the Lifeline. We rigorously protect all the confidential and identifying information shared with the Lifeline. We may use de-identified and aggregated data for reports to stakeholders, funders, and policy makers about the numbers and types of conversations we have with people in crisis, and the general aggregate demographics of people seeking help from the Lifeline.
What training does the Lifeline provide network crisis counselors?
Current requirements are for each center in the network to develop their own training curriculum that incorporates the 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 training program instructs people to assess safety/risk in a way that aligns with Lifeline Suicide Risk Assessment standards, and that centers train their crisis counselors to address all of the Lifeline required policies related to working with callers, chatters and texters at imminent risk of suicide. The Lifeline currently provides several tools and resources to support centers with their training needs, including interactive simulation training, a Safety Assessment informational website, and a Network Resource Center filled with guidance documents, tip sheets and archived webinars on a wide variety of clinical and operational topics.
Looking ahead, the Lifeline is in the process of creating a centralized learning management system with a core clinical curriculum to support crisis centers across the country and ensure that anyone who contacts the Lifeline receives consistent, effective, research-based support from any crisis counselor. This curriculum will provide foundational information and skills to effectively help people in crisis, particularly those at risk of suicide, and will supplement the crisis counselor training that centers currently provide their staff and volunteers. The first three of these core courses will be available to centers in late fall 2022.
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. 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 Lifeline does not take orders or ship print materials directly.
Can I link to the 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 Lifeline?
The Lifeline is made up of a national network of crisis centers. We encourage you to reach out to your local Lifeline-networked crisis center for volunteer or employment opportunities. Visit the Participate page to learn more, 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 Hannah Collins 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]