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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Applauds the Enactment of Sustainable Funding Legislation for 988 Behavioral Health Crisis Services in Maryland

May 17, 2024 – 4 min read


People stand in an ornate government room behind legislators signing bill

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 17, 2024) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a leading suicide prevention organization in the United States, applauds the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Moore for passing and signing into law SB 974/HB 933: Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services - 988 Trust Fund Fees.This critical new law establishes a sustainable source of state funding for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in Maryland. 

Since the 988 Lifeline transitioned to the current 3-digit “9-8-8” number in July 2022, contact centers in Maryland and nationwide continue to experience significant increases in demand for their services. In passing SB 974/HB 933, Maryland now joins eight other states nationwide in sustainably funding 988 Lifeline services via a small monthly fee on phone bills. More states must follow suit to ensure 988 Lifeline operations nationwide can meet increased service demand and truly provide all residents with someone to call, someone to respond, and somewhere safe to go.  

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, available by calling or texting 988 or chatting at, connects individuals experiencing a suicidal, mental health, or substance use crisis, or those worried about someone else, to a national network of state and local crisis contact centers. These centers provide free and confidential behavioral health crisis care 24/7/365 via phone, text, or chat and link individuals to in-person crisis care or wraparound services as needed. Services offered through the 988 Lifeline, including the crisis contact centers, mobile crisis response services, and crisis receiving and stabilization centers, are funded largely by individual states and localities through state appropriations, grants, and private donations. Federal funding also goes toward the 988 Lifeline but most of those dollars support nationwide Lifeline infrastructure, call routing, and technical assistance versus being distributed to individual states. 

“In the eight years that AFSP Maryland has been advocating at the state level, the passage of SB 974/HB 933 has the potential to have the most direct and positive effect in saving lives and improving suicide prevention and crisis response services here in Maryland. Maryland now has a self-sustaining permanent source of funding for crisis services that is independent of the budget process and will not be subject to budget cuts or deficits, but rather is funded by Marylanders directly through an affordable 25 cent per line per month telecom fee,” said Sue Maskaleris, AFSP-Maryland Chapter advocacy ambassador. 

Introduced by Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Jessica Feldmark, along with 27 House cosponsors, SB 974/HB 933 adds a 25-cent monthly fee to phone bills in Maryland, which goes directly to the state’s 988 Trust Fund (established last year). This fee will generate approximately $15-20 million annually for crisis services rendered through the 988 Lifeline for Marylanders. AFSP thanks these leaders for making 988 funding a top priority and seeing this critical bill through to enactment. 

Advocates with the AFSP Maryland Chapter(AFSP-MD) are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates working with public officials across the United States to bring best practices in suicide prevention to public officials and their staff. AFSP-MD supported SB 974/HB 933 along with many other mental health and suicide prevention organizations participating in the FundMD988 Campaign, under the leadership of Behavioral Health System Baltimore. AFSP-MD sincerely thanks the Behavioral Health System Baltimore and our partners in the FundMD988 Campaign for their leadership and tenacity in pushing for the bill’s passage. The campaign’s coalition of advocates offered key leadership on and support of SB 974/HB 933 leading up to and throughout the legislative session and continue to advocate for robust behavioral health crisis services across Maryland.  

Volunteer Advocates from AFSP-MD will join advocates from around the country in Washington, D.C. for AFSP’s annual Advocacy Forum in June. Advocates meet with their members of Congress and Congressional staff to share their stories and urge support for AFSP’s federal priorities. This year’s Advocacy Forum is focused on advancing efforts to enhance the 988 Lifeline and crisis response services nationwide. 

To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts in support of the 988 Lifeline, visit here: 


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through public education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a public policy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok.     

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