New suicide and crisis hotline launches

July 20, 2022

According to a release from University of Utah Health, on July 16, the 988 three-digit dialing code will launch in the United States (U.S.), offering the public easy-to-access lifesaving mental health resources.

988 will replace the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and is immediately available for calls, texts, and chats for those facing a mental health crisis and their families or loved ones.

“The University of Utah has been a longstanding partner in operating Utah’s crisis line. In partnership with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, the state’s primary focus is making sure everybody who calls the hotline has someone to speak to anytime and anywhere,” said Nate Checketts, deputy director, Healthcare Administration for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. “The state remains committed and focused on building capacity for phone-based services, like calls, texts, and chats, and wants to continue to develop services that support those that call. Adding the 988 number is an exciting step in improving services in our country and our state.”

In 2020, the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes—and for people aged 10 to 34 years old in Utah, suicide is a leading cause of death. Additionally, from April 2020-2021, more than 100,000 individuals died from drug overdoses. The demand for convenient crisis services in the U.S. is high, and the vision for 988 is to provide a fully transformed crisis care system that will provide 24/7, no-cost, and confidential support to anyone experiencing mental health-related distress.

The Utah Crisis Line operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and is managed and staffed by certified crisis workers at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI). In fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), HMHI fielded more than 92,532 calls and made 1,353 lifesaving interventions, according to the Crisis Services Annual Report. That amounted to a 32% year-over-year growth in total calls to the Utah Crisis Line compared to fiscal year 2020. In fiscal year 2022, the Utah Crisis Line received 102,742 calls – an 11% increase in calls for support year over year – and anticipates doubling the call volume with

988 Fast Facts

What Is 988?

988 is confidential, no-cost, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing mental health, substance use, or suicidal crises with trained crisis counselors. Access is available through every landline, cell phone, and voice-over-internet device in the United States. 988 call services will be available in Spanish along with interpretation services in over 150 languages.

Is 988 like 911?

988 services are distinct and separate from the emergency medical and public safety response associated with 911. 988 crisis counselors are trained to use the least-invasive interventions (call, text, or chat) to connect callers to the help they need. However, ongoing coordination between 988 and 911 is critical to connecting callers to additional emergency services when needed.

University of Utah Health release