988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
988 will be a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the U.S. for 24/7 The National Suicide Prevention Line, 800-273-TALK (8255), will still be accessible. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary. In Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, 988, instead of 211, is the best number to call for mental health crises.
About Soft Launch of 988
This 988 launch is being considered a “soft launch.” A soft launch is undertaken when an organization wants to roll out a new service gradually over time. In the case of 988, its creators want to ensure the infrastructure and staffing are in place to handle the call volume, which is expected to increase as the public becomes aware of this new resource. They also need the ability to continue work on various technical details and to address new issues as they arise. For these reasons, the messaging and advertising about 988 thus far has been somewhat limited, with more aggressive marketing planned as the system matures.
Of note, unlike 911, cell phone callers to 988 will be directed to a call center nearest to the area code of their phone. If you live in Miami, but have a New York City area code on your cell, you will be routed to a call center in New York. Organizers are working to address this issue.