Starting Saturday, July 16, people facing a mental health crisis can dial 988 to connect to support. The change is part of a nationwide effort to transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a phone number people can more easily remember and access in times of crisis. The shift also includes an online chat feature and new texting option.
The new 988 dialing code will serve as a universal entry point, so people can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help regardless of where they live. Anyone can dial or text 988 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to reach crisis support or to use an online chat feature to connect with crisis support. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
“Supporting mental health is a critical public health need, and one of the best ways we can do that is to make it as easy as possible for people to get the help they need when they need it,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “Our hope is that 988 can be an easier way for people experiencing mental health crises to get support quickly.”
The Lifeline 10-digit number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will continue to be available and will route people to the same resources. People should call 911 if they suspect drug overdose or need immediate medical help.
Suicide is a serious and growing public health concern across the United States and in Minnesota. The number of suicide deaths and the suicide rate in Minnesota has increased consistently for 20 years. MDH data shows:
• From 2016 through 2020, there were more than 10,000 hospital visits for self-harm injuries (i.e., suicide attempts) in Minnesota, and those were mostly among people ages 10-24, predominantly females.
• Each year about 75-80 percent of suicide deaths are among males.
• Each year about 50 percent of suicide deaths are the result of a firearm injury. Suicide usually represents 70-80 percent of all firearm deaths.
Moving to a shorter dialing code is an important step to help reduce suicide, and it is part of a larger push to improve options for Americans facing a mental health crisis. In moments of crisis, it can be challenging to look for resources or even just remember what number to call. Through 988, the Lifeline number will be easier to remember, and more accessible through chat and text. This will create more ways and make it easier for the public to find support.
About 988 in Minnesota
• The Lifeline is a national network of over 200 call centers. Minnesota has four Lifeline centers that connect callers to nearby or state-specific resources and services quickly and efficiently.
• Minnesota calls may be routed to the Lifeline’s national back-up centers when the four call centers are at capacity. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has several back-up centers that answer the overflow of calls from across the country. This will not change level of service.
• Interpretation services are available through calling the number. Currently, chat and text are only available in English.
• MN residents can also be transferred to their local mobile crisis response teams if needed.
To reach the Veterans Crisis Line, dial 988 and press 1. Calls will route to the same trained Veterans Crisis Line responders. The Veterans Crisis Line will still be available by chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat) and text (838255)