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988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

SAMHSA's 988 Partner Toolkit

988 logo

SAMHSA recognizes the need for governments, states, territories, tribes, crisis centers, and partners to speak with one voice to ensure there is a clear understanding about what 988 is and how it will work. We encourage you to use these communication outreach materials and build upon them with your community coalitions to meet the needs of your specific audiences.

Access the toolkit here: samhsa.gov/find-help/988/partner-toolkit


In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 988 as the new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. By July 2022, all telecommunications companies are expected to have made the necessary changes so that 988 is accessible.1 The need for this comes from the reality that the current approach to mental health crises is simply not working.


To connect those who are experiencing suicidal or mental health crises with appropriate and accessible services that can de-escalate mental health crises and connect individuals to the most appropriate care. The hope of the 988 system is:
  1. A change in community response to behavioral health crises
  2. A decrease in suicides and other poor mental health outcomes
  3. A reduction in health care spending and use of law enforcement with more cost-effective earlyintervention2
Additionally, there is a hope that the 988 system will create a “no wrong-door integrated crisis system” that provides:
  1. Someone to talk to
  2. Someone to respond; and when needed
  3. Somewhere to go

Note: Given that many states are not in a place to be fully operational, the national roll-out of information related to 988 will most likely be seen in December 2022 or January 2023.

How will 988 operate in the state of Missouri?

  1. As of July 2022, Missouri is situated in the top 5% of states prepared for the roll out and implementation of 988
  2. The hope is that 988 will become “more than just a three-digit number” that will fill in gaps that the system has unknowingly created – including the hope for both follow-up and a place/person for connection after a crisis episode (i.e., wraparound services)
  3. The following flow chart can help to visualize how a person in crisis will be helped within the state3:
  1. 988 is active as of July 16, 2022, via call, text, or chat services at https://988lifeline.org (operated with the assistance of DeafLEAD)
  2. Information related to 988 must be included on all newly issued (and replaced) student identification cards at public institutions of higher education by July 1, 20234

Who will individuals be connected to when they contact 988?

Although 988 is currently NOT related to geolocation (as this will require federal legislation/regulation), the Missouri Task Force believes that there will be at least an 80% chance that someone within Missouri who contacts 988 will be connected to an individual in Missouri with a secondary call center – Provident Behavioral Health. The National Backup Network will only come into play when neither the Missouri centers nor Provident Behavioral Health are unable to answer.

The following flow chart explains who an individual will be connected to when they contact 9885:

988 call routing

988/Lifeline is a confidential service, although if there is a need for a release of information due to a court order, further direction may be found through use of the Lifeline’s “Contact Us” form.

How is 988 different than 911?

  1. 988 was established to improve access to crisis services to meet the growing suicide/mental health crisis need
  2. 911 is for public safety/medical emergency purposes (where the focus is on dispatching emergency medical services, fire, and police as needed)
  3. If a mental health crisis is at the point of being a medical emergency, continue to use 911

How is 988 different from the Crisis Text Line?

The Crisis Text Line (text HOME or MOSAFE to 741741) will still operate as a complementary service to 988 given the mental health crisis throughout the country and that “the need for mental health services is too great for any one organization to meet the demand alone.6

Additional Resources:

  1. Missouri Department of Mental Health: dmh.mo.gov/behavioral-health/988-suicide-and-crisis-lifeline
  2. 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988lifeline.org
    1. Social Media Guidelines re: Supporting Others: 988lifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/SupportForSuicidalIndividuals_988.pdf
  3. SAMHSA: samhsa.gov/find-help/988
    1. Partner Toolkit: samhsa.gov/find-help/988/partner-toolkit
    2. Branding Standards: samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/988-branding-standards.pdf
  4. Basecamp: 3.basecamp.com/3780642/buckets/16830079/vaults/5131156589 (if you are a PIP member and need access, please contact Margo or Molly)

1. MHA 988 FAQ Document (https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/988%20FAQ%20with%20Vibrant%20(logos%20included).pdf)
2. Missouri Department of Mental Health (https://dmh.mo.gov/behavioral-health/988-suicide-and-crisis-lifeline)
3. Chart was provided via webinar on July 13, 2022, “988: Creating the Ideal Crisis System of Care”
4. See final legislation here: https://www.senate.mo.gov/22info/pdf-bill/tat/SB718.pdf
5. Chart was provided via webinar on July 13, 2022, “988: Creating the Ideal Crisis System of Care”
6. For more information from the Crisis Text Line, visit: https://www.crisistextline.org/blog/2022/07/16/why-988-matters-for-mental-health