What You Need to Know About 988, the New Suicide Hotline

Haley Zapal | July 14, 2022 | Child & Teen Depression Parenting Tips

988 on phone suicide hotline

Starting July 16, 2022, people in distress — including those who are suicidal or experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis — can call, text, or chat 988 to reach support. This new easy-to-remember number may be new, but its lifesaving concept isn’t — dialing 988 will route callers to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will still be active after 988 launches nationally.

Designating 988 as the new suicide hotline is so, so important for expanding mental health care in the U.S. First, it shows that mental health emergencies are just as important as public safety emergencies by assigning it a quickly reached, three-digit number like 911. Second, by making it easy to access and remember, the hotline makes it possible to get help to more people. Read on to find answers to frequently asked questions about 988.

FAQs About 988, the New Suicide Hotline Number

How can you access 988?

From a phone, you can call 988 to speak in-person with a trained counselor. If talking feels like too much, you can send a message to 988 and communicate via text. Finally, if you don’t have access to a phone or have spotty cell service, you can visit 988lifeline.org to text chat or even place a video call. The lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week — including holidays and weekends.

What should you expect when you call 988?

When you contact 988, you’ll be connected with a trained local counselor who will listen, provide support, and offer resources for further help, if needed. If you’re worried about an ambulance being automatically called, don’t be — fewer than 2% of hotline calls require connection to emergency services like 911. 

How is 988 different from 911?

988 aims to help provide more accessible mental health support given the rising rates of suicide in the U.S. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. 911, on the other hand, is for public safety and medical emergencies like fires, accidents, and crimes. Calling 911 often results in the dispatch of EMTs, police, or firefighters. 

Can anyone call 988?

Yes. Anybody who needs suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or is close to someone in crisis, can contact the lifeline for help and assistance. Counselors can provide ways to help navigate a situation if you’re a loved one looking to help. The lifeline is absolutely free.

Is 988 only for those with suicidal ideation?

988 provides support not just for suicide, but also mental health and substance-use crises. 

Does 988 work in every part of the U.S.?

Yes, the Lifeline itself covers all areas of the U.S., even if there’s no nearby local crisis center. 988’s goal is to get calls answered as locally as possible, so they are working on developing relationships in areas where there are no nearby crisis centers.

How Bark Can Help With Suicidal Ideation

As a suicide hotline, 988 can provide help in moments of crisis. But what about before a situation gets to that point of crisis? Bark’s award-winning service helps families by monitoring children’s online activities for potential signs of depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm and more. When you connect their device and accounts, Bark will scan for potential issues and send you an alert if something concerning is found. This way, you can check in and make sure everything is okay in your child’s world.

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.

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