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New 988 Lifeline Offers Help, Hope, and Healing

People experiencing a mental health crisis can now dial 988 for help from the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Since its launch in 2005, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has received millions of calls and saved thousands of lives. After 17 years, the lifeline is adapting to a shorter three-digit code: 9-8-8, in hopes of better meeting the needs of Americans struggling with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or any other kind of emotional distress.

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Photo by Thiago Barletta

As of Saturday, July 16, 2022, people experiencing a mental health crisis can now dial or text 9-8-8, 24/7 for help from the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. One goal for the new crisis hotline is to mimic the memorable shorthand for 9-1-1 emergencies. Dialing the previous 1-800-273-8255 will route the caller directly to the 988 Lifeline.

Speaking about mental health in Utah, NAMI Utah’s program director for prevention, Benee Larsen, stated that funds have been allocated towards the new system. “Our goal,” Larsen stated, “is to let them feel heard, cared about, and that there is hope.” Utah Crisis lines receive roughly 8,600 calls for help every month. The 988 Lifeline aims to offer help, hope, and healing for anyone hurting from mental health. Dr. Mark Rapaport, CEO of Huntsman Mental Health Institute reassuringly stated:

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We’ve worked for the past two years to ensure we are adequately staffed and resourced so that as more people are aware of 988, we can be appropriately prepared to meet the demand and still ensure quality. As the three-digit number becomes ubiquitous, it will help reduce stigma around seeking support for mental health services and improve access to care … our goal is to make sure callers are supported and to offer hope and ongoing resources for healing.
Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO, Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
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Implementing 988 connects a national network of more than 200 crisis centers. These centers will be able to provide a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone struggling with emotional distress. Mental health advocates hope that those struggling will no longer be faced with long wait times. 988 responders will be trained crisis counselors with options for the services in Spanish and over 150 additional languages.

The launch of the 988 Lifeline is one of many resources available. Please use and share this resource if you or someone you know is struggling. Additional resources include:

  • Crisis Line of Utah County: 801-226-4433
  • Provo Crisis Line: 801- 373-7393
  • Crisis Line serving Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties: 801-261-1442
  • Utah students can talk or text with a counselor through the SafeUT app.

For more resources see our resources page. To schedule an appointment with a counselor call 801-422-7759.