What to Expect When You Call 988
You may have heard of the national suicide prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) prior to the designation of 988. Essentially, 988 will expand the services that were available through Lifeline and work to make crisis care more accessible to people across the United States. Just like Lifeline, dialing 988 is free and confidential. Calls will be answered locally at the crisis center that corresponds with your phone’s area code. After dialing, you may choose to speak to someone in Spanish. If you identify as a veteran or LGTBQ+ youth, you can be rerouted to a call center that best fits your lived experience.
Your call is important and urgent. In most cases, callers will wait less than 30 seconds to talk to a counselor. In some cases, however, wait times will be longer. This is especially true if your call must be rerouted to a backup center instead of answered at the local office. All call centers are staffed with trained crisis responders. These responders do not follow a script. Instead, they let you lead the conversation. Their goal is to help you feel safe and heard. Counselors can also help you create a safety plan, so that after you finish your call you can continue to avoid self-harm. In rare cases, responders may dispatch a mobile response team to come to your aid.
You can also call the hotline if a friend or loved one is experiencing a crisis. Counselors at the call center will help you to know you are not alone. A responder can also connect you to resources in your area so your loved one can get help.