Dial 988 for Mental Health; Suicide Prevention Number Ready to Launch

Just like 911, there is a new, nationwide emergency phone number for the public, dedicated to suicide and mental health crises.

The 988 number will launch on Saturday, July 16, 2022. It will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The 988 number is a way for more Americans, from every state and every community, to access trained mental counselors and resources during a time when mental health emergencies are skyrocketing.

Also available online, 988 has the ability to chat at https://988lifeline.org/ or by texting 988.

The service isn’t entirely new. The number is a makeover for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). By giving the hotline a three-digit number, like 911, experts say people are able to remember the number easier, and thus more likely to call when they need help.

Callers are able to remain anonymous. According to their website, when a caller dials 988, ”A trained crisis counselor will answer the phone, listen to the caller, understand how their problem is affecting them, provide support, and share resources if needed.”

Calls are generally routed to state or local 988 call centers, but some may be transferred to national call centers, depending on call volume. Due to the sensitive nature of each call, calls are expected to last about 20 minutes. Some are anticipating that there could be wait times for some callers.

In Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority is working to develop a framework to help operators at 911 and 988 collaborate.

Specifically among native communities, suicide is the second leading cause of death in kids and teens ages 10-24. According to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, “988 is one step in the direction of saving lives. It will send a message that healing and getting help are normal and important parts of life.”

Tribal members can text NATIVE or INDIGENOUS to 741714, the national Crisis Text Line, or text, call, or chat directly with 988 anytime.

Cow Creek Behavioral Health is also a resource for Cow Creek Tribal members experiencing mental health strain. Call (541) 672-8533 and press #5 for Behavioral Health.