The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Saves Lives

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
Healthy Minds
October 09, 2023

Need help right now? 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat Immediate emergency services to your location are available by calling 911.

What is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline?

The 988 dialing code operates through what was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is a network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers around the country. The Lifeline transitioned to the 3-digit number in July 2022. Transition to 988 is an important step forward and offers an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen and transform crisis care in our country.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to trained counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use, and other mental health crises. People can call or text 988 or chat for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. Interpretation services are offered in over 150 languages (phone call only for any language other than English and Spanish). All conversations are free and confidential. Many excellent resources are available on the 988 Lifeline website. Be sure to know the risk factors and warnings signs of suicide.

Need for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Too many people are experiencing suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress without the support and care they need, and sadly, the pandemic only made a bad situation worse when it comes to mental health and wellness in America.

Consider these statistics from 2021:

  • The U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes.
  • For every one person who dies by suicide annually, 316 people seriously consider suicide, but do not kill themselves.
  • For people aged 10-14 and 25-34 years of age, suicide was the second-leading cause of death.
  • Suicide rates increased significantly among non-Hispanic Black & American Indian and Alaska Native people.
  • Nearly 900,000 youth aged 12-17 and 1.7 million adults attempted suicide.
  • About 107,000 people died from drug overdoses.

Yet, there is hope. The 988 Lifeline helps thousands of people struggling to overcome suicidal crises or mental health-related distress every day. The Lifeline has received over 23 million calls from people in distress looking for support when they needed it most...and that number is growing even faster with the change to 988. Lifeline crisis counselors are trained and ready to help anyone needing support. Be sure to spread the word to others that help is immediately available through the 988 Lifeline.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat Immediate emergency services to your location are available by calling 911.

Specialized Services

The 988 Lifeline voice, text, and chat options are offered in Spanish. To call a Spanish-speaking crisis counselor, dial 988 and then press 2. To text with a Spanish-speaking crisis counselor, text AYUDA to 988. Chat with a Spanish-speaking crisis counselor here.

Los servicios de llamada, texto, y chat de 988 Lifeline se ofrecen en español. Para comunicarse con un consejero de crisis que habla español, marque 988 y luego presione 2. Para enviar un mensaje de texto a un consejero de crisis que habla español, envié la palabra AYUDA al 988. Chatear con un consejero de crisis que habla español aqui.

LGBTQI+ people under the age of 25 can access 24/7 LGBTQI+ support on both 988 Crisis Chat or Text. You’ll be asked if you want to opt-in to this support before you’re connected to a crisis counselor.

Veterans and active service members can reach the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) 24/7 by texting 838255, chatting with the VCL, or calling 988 and pressing 1. Learn more about the VCL.

Deaf and hard of hearing people can access 24/7 support through the 988 American Sign Language Videophone.

More Information on the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The Washington Post recently published this article for the one year anniversary of the 988 Lifeline: They have minutes to save a life — 988 is a year old and busy.

A New Resource in FCPS

Fairfax County Public Schools recently developed a new Suicide Prevention webpage. When school personnel, families, and communities take an active role in suicide prevention, lives can be saved. Visit this site to learn more information on the warning signs of suicide, as well as how to talk to your child about suicide. Find out what efforts FCPS are taking towards suicide prevention. A number of additional resources are offered. 

A Quick One Page Guide to Suicide Prevention

The National Association of School Psychologists offers this excellent Guidance at-a Glance resource: Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators

IMPORTANT! If you or someone you know is suicidal, get help immediately by:

  • Calling 911.
  • Calling or texting 988, or chatting to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
  • Visiting the nearest emergency room.
  • Contacting these emergency service options:

The Healthy Minds Blog shares information related to youth mental health and wellness for an audience of parent, educators and community-based providers. Articles include tips and strategies for increasing wellness and resiliency, as well as fostering success at home, at school and in the community.

The Healthy Minds Blog is a collaborative project between Fairfax County Public Schools and the Prevention Unit of the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. It is part of the Healthy Minds Fairfax (see below) initiative, designed to support emotional wellness in youth and families.

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