988 – New Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Hotline Launches

On July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) is becoming the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. In Connecticut, the United Way of Connecticut/211 (UWC) Health and Human Services Contact Center is the only provider answering calls for the NSPL/988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The 800 line and 211 will not go away in the event people need to call and aren’t familiar yet with 988.⁠

It will take time for people to learn about 988, and using a “no wrong door” approach is imperative to support timely crisis response. The UWC Contact Center services a person receives are the same at the call center level regardless of which number they use as the access point.⁠

The UWC Contact Center has built its capacity and is ready to receive 988 calls. It is well staffed and has a high answer rate. Text and chat services have not yet been initiated for 988, so any 988 texters/chatters will be served by a national text or chat center. ⁠

Given that the call, text and chat services are part of a national and statewide telecommunications and crisis care system still being developed in some states and enhanced in others, there will be challenges needing to be addressed in the first year, the “soft launch” test period. Therefore, at the national level the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) leading this initiative has asked states and territories to hold off from releasing large 988 promotion campaigns until July 2023; however, we see that the media coverage is already increasing use of the NSPL/988.⁠