The 988 Lifeline is a three-digit dialing code in the USA, implemented on July 16, 2022 to provide an easier pathway for callers to connect with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Callers previously had to use a 10-digit number, but now they can dial 988 and access over 200 local crisis centers.
The 988 network and its crisis centers have been available since 2005, with trained counselors readily available to provide compassionate support to people, whether they choose to communicate via call or text. By migrating to the three-digit code, they aim to enhance accessibility and ensure that individuals experiencing emotional distress can easily reach out for assistance.
According to NPR, within this first year of operation, the 988 Lifeline has fielded about 5 million calls, chats, and texts, a 35% increase compared to the previous 10-digit line, with the average wait time dropping from 2:39 minutes to 41 seconds. By simplifying the contact process, this national crisis line has helped out more people, although there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of increasing awareness.
The official website also states that the previous 10-digit number (1 800 273 8255) still functions as it should.