988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:
Thoughts of suicide
Mental health or substance use crisis, or
Any other kind of emotional distress
What happens when you call, text or chat 988?
You will be connected with a skilled, trained crisis worker who works at the Lifeline network crisis center closest to you. This person will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support and share any resources that may be helpful.
The Lifeline does not “trace” callers, chat or text users. For some individuals, having contact with emergency services can be traumatic and dangerous, and whenever possible the Lifeline recommends alternate options such as collaborating on a safety plan, utilizing mobile crisis teams, collaborating with the individual’s loved ones or professionals, or supporting the individual to get to a Crisis Stabilization Unit, emergency department, or urgent care. Learn more and get answers to other frequently asked questions.
People in mental health crisis can dial 9-8-8 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and get immediately connected to trained crisis counselors 24/7. The new three-digit number provides a faster, easier way to get the help already available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
“Help is available to those experiencing a mental health crisis,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Our goal is to make 9-8-8 a household word that North Carolinians know they can access from wherever they are to get the help they need. This resource will literally save lives.”
Since 2012, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with REAL Crisis Intervention Inc. in Greenville to operate the NC Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center. In addition to providing trained crisis counseling, the call center connects also callers to help in their local community based on each caller’s specific needs. As the number changes to 9-8-8, the call center is also adding 24/7 chat and text response.
North Carolina’s call center is one of the most responsive in the country. In May 2022, 98% of calls were answered in less than seven seconds, the second-best rate among the 50 states. The new 9-8-8 number is expected to bring up to 30% more calls per year, because it is easier to remember and access. The call center is adding more staff to make sure it is ready to handle the additional volume.
“Getting help as early as possible is the most important step people can take to prevent a mental health crisis or keep it from getting worse,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Mark Benton, “The 9-8-8 number is a big step towards making it as easy as possible for people to reach out for help.”
NCDHHS in collaboration with many community, local and state partners, has been preparing for the launch of 9-8-8 and received a $3.3 million federal grant in April to transition to the new number. Additionally, $1.3 million in recurring funds to support the call center was included in the budget that was passed by the NC General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper earlier this week. For more information on the NSPL, visit 988lifeline.org.