Dial 988: New national lifeline for suicide prevention and mental health crisis support launches July 16

July 13, 2022
988 Hotline
By Regence

A new emergency three-digit dialing code is set to launch on July 16 to address the pressing need for additional mental health support for individuals in crisis throughout the United States. In 2020, Congress worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create a new 988 dialing code as America’s suicide prevention and mental health crisis lifeline.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 480,622 lives were lost to suicide between 2010 and 2020. This includes a steep increase in suicide deaths among Black people (43% increase), American Indian or Alaska Native (41% increase), Hispanic or Latino (27% increase) and individuals located in rural areas (23% increase). Demand for mental health crisis lines continues to far exceed capacity, and the launch of 988 is a crucial tool. Given the most recent data from SAMHSA, calls to the new 988 line are expected to increase two-fold from 3.3 million in 2020 to 7.6 million by the end of July 2023.

The three-digit dialing code will help strengthen crisis response systems for everyone. People who call, text or chat 988 will be connected to trained counselors as part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. 988 provides an easy-to-remember way to reach out for help, directly connecting anyone struggling with emotional distress or those at risk of suicide with quality, accessible care and support. The new lifeline strengthens collaborative care, linking those in crisis to a wide range of community-based behavioral health care, from crisis response to early intervention and prevention services.

988 will be confidential, free and available 24 hours a day year-round, offering call services in English and Spanish along with interpretation services in over 150 languages. Until 988 launches on July 16, 2022, those in crisis should continue to the existing phone number (800) 273-8255, which will continue to function even after the new lifeline starts.

Supporting nonprofit partners and our behavioral health workforce

Access to mental health services is a critical community need and 988 helps strengthen and expand a whole-person health approach. Regence’s corporate foundation has invested over $300,000 in six nonprofit organizations that are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system to support, expand, diversify and train our region’s behavioral health workforce.

Organizations that received funding across our four states include:

  • Jannus, Inc. dba Idaho Crisis & Suicide Hotline (Idaho) is Idaho’s only National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center.
  • Lines for Life (Oregon) is a regional nonprofit dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide - they offer help and hope to individuals and communities and promote mental health for all.
  • Northwest Human Services (Oregon) creates a healthy community with respect, compassion and acceptance for all.
  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Utah Crisis Line (Utah) empowers families and individuals with tools and resources to receive needed care. Licensed mental health clinicians provide mental health support, coordination and dispatch response to individuals in the community.
  • Crisis Connections (Washington) connects people in physical, emotional and financial crisis to services that will be of help.
  • Volunteers of America Western Washington (Washington) serves people and communities in need and creates opportunities for people to experience the joy of serving others.

“Our goal is to expand access to behavioral health services to advance whole-person health in underserved communities,” says Peggy Maguire, president of Regence’s corporate foundation. “We are honored to partner with organizations responsible for implementing 988 in our region, and to support the behavioral health workforce who will provide critical services to people living in our community.”

Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.

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