Crisis lines funding and support
About the issue
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) is a national network of state and local crisis centers linked through a 24/7 toll-free number (1-800-273-TALK or 8255) that connects callers throughout the U.S. to immediate crisis care. The Lifeline network consists of over 170 independently operated local- and state-funded crisis centers in 48 states. Ideally, callers are connected with a local counselor in their own state. However, if the local center is unable to answer, the Lifeline reroutes calls to backup centers in their network, both in- and out-of-state.
Although the Lifeline has proven itself to be an essential and necessary component of the suicide prevention and mental health care system, the network of crisis centers consistently faces two main interconnected barriers to its effectiveness and success: (1) insufficient funding, and (2) the capacity to respond to a steadily increasing call volume.
Our policy position
AFSP recognizes that crisis call centers provide invaluable support at critical times and connect individuals to services that can save lives. Statewide crisis call centers can reduce gaps in local service delivery, and local Lifeline affiliated call centers ensure callers are linked with local services and resources. Federal, state, and local level support for and investment in the Lifeline network is critical for crisis centers across the U.S. at a time when many are underfunded and in jeopardy of having to reduce services, or in some cases, close entirely.
Currently, we are focused on increases in funding for the Lifeline network on both the federal and state or local levels. Adequate funding is needed to ensure that calls can truly be answered 24/7/365 by individuals who have been trained to handle suicide risk and other mental health crisis situations and who are supervised by a mental health clinician.
To learn more, read our Crisis Lines: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network issue brief.
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