The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a phone, chat, and text service that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health related distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the U.S.
Behind the scenes, it’s a national network of around 200 local, independent, and state crisis centers staffed with skilled, trained crisis counselors. The Lifeline maintains a number of centers within the network that also back up local crisis centers in answering phone calls and that also answer chats and texts. A few Lifeline centers also provide direct Spanish language support. Currently, the number to reach the Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, but on July 16, 2022, the country will transition to using 988 (although the 800 number never goes away). There is one network administrator that oversees the Lifeline through a competitive grant with SAMHSA.
More frequently asked questions about the Lifeline.
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- Congress appropriates funding for suicide prevention hotline
- SAMHSA awards a competitive grant to a single lead grantee to establish a network of crisis centers that can answer calls from their local communities
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launched with the 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
- Received 46K calls in the first year
- The Lifeline adds a Spanish language subnetwork (now “Press 2”) on 1-800-273-8255
- Disaster Distress Helpline added into the Lifeline network, with a different phone number and SAMHSA funding source
- Lifeline chat link added to Google search engine when a person types “suicide” or related terms
- The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act becomes law. It requires a feasibility study into designating a three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system
- The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 becomes law. It requires the FCC to designate 988 as the universal number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline
- English text service added to the Lifeline
- Lifeline volume has grown to 3.3M calls, chats, and texts
- On July 16, 2020, the FCC issues the final order designating 988 as the new Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line number, requiring all U.S. telecommunication providers to activate 988 for all subscribers by July 16, 2022
- The FCC added to their order that all U.S. telecommunication providers also activate text to 988 by July 16, 2022
- The country transitions to 988, an easy-to-remember, three-digit dialing code
- Around 200 local, independently owned and operated crisis centers operate in the Lifeline network
- The 988 Lifeline launches specialized services for LGBTQI+ youth and young adults (press 3 on calls)
- Spanish-language text and chat service added to the 988 Lifeline
- 988 Lifeline answers nearly 5 million contacts in its first year