988

Until 988 is online, call 1-800-273-8255 if you are in crisis or visit our Get Help page in the navigation menu above.

What is 988?

By July of 2022, 988 will be the new number for anyone in crisis to call. Much like 911 is known as the emergency number for police, fire, or medical help, 988 will be the crisis line for a mental health crisis or suicide prevention.

988 will become the new number for what is now the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

How will 988 work?

988, we expect, will work exactly like the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. When someone calls 988, their call will be routed to their local crisis center.

KSPHQ’s counseling center (aka, Headquarters Counseling Center) is the local crisis center serving all 105 counties in Kansas. If the counselors at HQ are helping others or aren’t able to answer, the call “rolls” to another crisis center in the 170-center Lifeline network.

Who will be able to call 988?

Anyone for any reason. If you’re thinking about suicide, concerned for a friend, grieving, feeling hopeless, or just need to talk to someone about something that’s going on in your life, you can call.

Our counselors volunteer their time because they care about you and want to help.

How did 988 come about?

In August of 2018, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act instructing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to examine what measures would be needed (and how much those measures would cost!) to enhance the operation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), specifically with attention given to using a 3-digit dialing code. After many months of number crunching and investigation, the FCC introduced the possibility of using 988 for the NSPL. Rather than people needing to memorize 1-800-273-8255, all they would need to dial is 988! This 988 number would operate in the same way as other 3-digit numbers, such as 911. With this move, 988 would incorporate the NSPL into an umbrella of mental health services. Bottom Line: this number will serve as a hub for a wide variety of mental health concerns, not simply those who are struggling with suicidality.

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved designation of 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Thursday, July 16, 2020. These rules require all telephone service providers to enable the designation of 988 as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis line within 2 years, effective July 16, 2022.

Why was 988 needed?

In 2017, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported more than 47,000 Americans died from suicide and more than 1.4 million adults attempted suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2016, suicide deaths increased in 49 of the 50 states. Even more troubling, in over half those states, the increase was greater than 20%. The largest increase was seen between 2016 and 2017, with an increase of 3.7%, in other words, more than 2,000 additional suicide deaths were recorded. Suicide in the United States is currently at its highest level since World War II.

In short, we believe that designating the 988 code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system is highly likely to lower suicide mortality risk in the United States by more than 0.13% in the first year and 0.04% in the second year, and thus that the benefits of this action are quite likely to outweigh the costs. ​

Suicide is rarely about death. Most people who consider suicide don’t want to die. They seek to end the intense pain with which they live. We know that through means restriction and access to professional intervention, suicide is preventable. With expanded free and confidential access through 988, we believe that more people can be helped.

Can I call 988 now?

Unfortunately, not yet but you can still get help now. Until 988 is online, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or KSPHQ’s counseling center, (aka, Headquarters Counseling Center) 785-841-2345 is available 24/7 for free and confidential help for anyone in crisis, considering suicide, concerned about someone else, or in need of emotional support regarding anything going on in their lives.

Phone carriers aren’t required to enable the designation until July 16, 2022.

What does this mean for those in Kansas?

The FCC estimates that centers will see a 100% increase in call volume within the first year of the 3-digit dialing code implementation. In Kansas, that’s an additional 14,000-15,000 callers each year!

As the only crisis center serving all 105 counties in Kansas, Headquarters Counseling Center will need a large, enthusiastic and energized group of volunteer counselors to answer the phones so that all Kansans who need help can get help. If you are interested in helping others, please learn more about our volunteer counselor program by clicking here.

How will this affect KSPHQ?

In 2019, KSPHQ received nearly 14,000 calls through the Lifeline from 101 of Kansas’ 105 counties, an increase of 55% since 2015, and project a doubling of calls to the Lifeline network over the next four to five years after 988 comes online.

The FCC has assigned 988 as a number but does not provide a direction for building the required infrastructure. Congress is considering legislation, Suicide Hotline Designation Act S.2661 and/or its mirroring House Bill, H.R. 4194, to address infrastructure needs related to 988 services and operations. Currently, there is no additional funding offered to members of the Lifeline network.

More information is available through these resources:

FCC Fact Sheet, Implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2018

Report on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2018

FCC unanimously approves 988 requiring all phone carriers to update by July 16, 2022.