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New 988 Crisis Lifeline Number is Historic, Underscores Continued Advocacy to Reimagine Crisis

16 Jul 2022 — 1 min read

By AFSP

Man holding phone ready to dial 988

Remembering Clark: Losing My Twin Brother to Suicide

Thanks to AFSP advocates, organizational partners, elected officials and thousands more, the new 9-8-8 three digit dialing code to call, text or chat for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is now available nationwide. A new era in suicide prevention has arrived in the United States with an easy to remember number. Free, confidential help for those in crisis will be closer than ever before.

Since the passage of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, AFSP has advocated tirelessly to raise awareness and demand the changes needed for 988 implementation. AFSP advocates have sent tens of thousands of messages to their elected officials and held hundreds of meetings through our State Capitol Days, Advocacy Forums, and Action Center.

This advocacy has contributed to many states passing legislation to prepare their crisis response systems for this change. Historic levels of federal funding for the Lifeline have been secured: investments have increased 18-fold this year (from $24M to $432M) for this national priority, with $105M of that directed to states and territories.  But our work to transform the crisis care system does not end here.

“This is truly a historic moment, which recognizes the importance of mental health and how critical it is to connect people in crisis with lifesaving support. It’s also a time for reimagining crisis response to ensure everyone in our country has access to mental health crisis services, whether through talking with a trained counselor over the phone, or with a mental health professional, in person, through mobile crisis support. Finally, mental health is being viewed as equal to every other aspect of our health.” said AFSP CEO Bob Gebbia.

Challenges and gaps remain to achieve the promise of 988. Over the coming months, its anticipated crisis call volume will increase significantly. We will need support to advocate for state and federal funding to ensure 988 meets the growing demand, and that all people who live in our country get the crisis care support they may need.

Please go to afsp.org/988 for more information. Join us as we continue to help prevent suicide.

See the 988 letter in the Washington Post we penned with our partners.

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