What is the 988 number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline?
The 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the nationwide 3-digit dialing code for Americans in crisis to connect with mental health crisis counselors. This dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting in July 2022. The lifeline will accept calls (in English and Spanish) and texts (in English only) from anyone who needs support for mental health, substance use, and suicidal crises. The lifeline is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
How will the 988 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline be implemented?
In September 2021, The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was passed by Congress, establishing a new three-digit dialing code (9-8-8) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the nation’s main point of contact for suicide prevention and mental health crisis response services.
This legislation will shift the paradigm on how our community responds to those experiencing a mental health crisis, including limiting the involvement of law enforcement, providing solutions for de-escalating mental health crises, and connecting individuals to appropriate support.
The dedicated funding currently in place for the 988 lifeline is a step in the right direction. However, implementing the 988 lifeline successfully does require continued funding on the state and local level. While the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network can be accessed nationwide, not all states and localities have the funds to operate local call center locations, and the projected increase in call volume may become overwhelmed surrounding its launch. The Autism Society hopes to work closely with crisis centers across the country to advocate for the necessary training and resources to help the Autism and I/DD communities, including specialized training in Autism.
In May, the Autism Society hosted a panel discussion surrounding the implementation needs with NAMI, the Arc, and Russell Lehmann, self-advocate and member of the Autism Society’s Council of Autistic Advisors. We go into greater detail about the implementation needs here: Community Connections: Implementing the 988 Number
Because Autistic individuals are significantly more likely to think about, attempt, and die by suicide than the general population, the Autism Society launched a Suicide Prevention Task Force to better serve Autistic individuals experiencing mental health crises that may lead to suicide.
Working alongside Florida Atlantic University, the Task Force was able to issue a survey collecting information from Autistic adults who wanted to share their own personal experiences with crisis hotlines to better inform and train those who answer the call for help.
Additionally, a large focus of our educational resources have been surrounding mental health supports and the implementation of the 988 lifeline. You can find updates in our Capitol Connection newsletter, monthly resources (May and July), and our mental health page. We’re continuing to develop resources and supports, including our recently released download, “988 Lifeline, What to Expect: Before, During, and After“.
Below is a list of additional resources to explore for support:
Public Policy Resources
For additional information, resources and support, please contact our National Helpline at 800-3-AUTISM or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the National Helpline is not a crisis line.