July 14, 2022
The new three-digit dialing code makes it easier to access support in mental health crises
From Saturday 16 July, people facing a mental health crisis can dial 988 to contact support. The change is part of a nationwide effort to transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a phone number that people can more easily remember and access in times of crisis. The change also includes an online chat feature and a new text messaging option.
The new 988 dialing code will serve as a universal entry point so people can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help, no matter where they live. Anyone can dial or text 988 24 hours a day, seven days a week to contact crisis support or use the online chat feature to contact crisis support. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
“Mental health support is a critical public health need and one of the best ways we can do this is to make it as easy as possible for people to get the help they need when they need it,” said the Commissioner for Minnesota Health Jan Malcolm . “We hope 988 can be an easier way for people experiencing mental health crises to get support quickly.”
Lifeline’s 10-digit number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will continue to be available and will direct people to the same resources. People should call 911 if they suspect a drug overdose or need immediate medical attention.
Suicide is a serious and growing public health problem in the United States and in Minnesota. The number of suicide deaths and the suicide rate in Minnesota have risen steadily for 20 years. MDH data shows:
- From 2016 to 2020, there were more than 10,000 hospital visits for self-harm (i.e., suicide attempts) in Minnesota, and they were mostly among people ages 10-24, mostly women.
- Each year, about 75-80% of suicide deaths are among men.
- Each year, about 50% of suicide deaths are the result of a gunshot wound. Suicide typically accounts for 70-80% of all firearm deaths.
The move to a shorter dialing code is an important step in reducing suicides and is part of a larger push to improve options for Americans facing a mental health crisis. In times of crisis, it can be a challenge to search for resources or even just remember which number to call. With 988, the Lifeline number will be easier to remember and more accessible via chat and text. This will create more avenues and make it easier for the public to find support.
About 988 in Minnesota
- Lifeline is a national network of over 200 call centers. Minnesota has four Lifeline centers that connect callers with nearby or state-specific resources and services quickly and efficiently.
- Calls in Minnesota can be routed to Lifeline’s national backup centers when all four call centers are loaded. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has several backup centers that respond to the overflow of calls from across the country. This will not change the level of service.
- Interpretation services are available by calling the number. Chat and text are currently only available in English.
To reach the Veterans Crisis Line, dial 988 and press 1. Calls will be directed to the same trained Veterans Crisis Line operators. The Veterans Crisis Line will still be available via chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat) and text (838255).