The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is is a national network of crisis call centers providing 24/7, free, and confidential support to people who are having suicidal thoughts or are in emotional distress. On July 16, 2022, the lifeline will officially change from 1-800-273-8255 to the three-digit dialing code 988.
The current National Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) and Gryphon Place’s local hotline (269-381-HELP) will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally.
When a call is made to the 988 line, that call is routed to the nearest crisis center, including Gryphon Place. Gryphon Place will also be a National Back Up Center for 988, in the event another center is busy and not able to respond to a call in an effective timeframe.
In 2020, the U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes. The Lifeline number is being shortened to three digits to make it easier to remember and reduce the stigma around mental health.
“Making the Lifeline an easy to remember number, similar to 911, will increase accessibility for those in crisis,” says Maricela Alcala, Gryphon Place’s CEO.
This transition will also ensure more mental health crisis calls go to the Lifeline, rather than 911, as the Lifeline call centers have advanced training in helping someone experiencing a mental health emergency. This will reduce interventions by armed law enforcement and reliance on emergency rooms – and ultimately keep people alive.
With an easy number to remember, the Lifeline hopes to reach many more people in emotional crisis. As a result, call centers will need to expand. Those interested in volunteering for Gryphon Place’s hotline can apply at gryphon.org/volunteer-gp.