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New 988 Number Provides Quick Access to Support for People Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

By Pam Dewey and Amber Bloom, Fraser Mental Health Professional Service Lead • 988 number, new number for mental health crisis, national mental health number, U.S. mental help hotline, mental health number, suicide hotline, mental health hotline, suicide help, text for mental health help, mental health assistance, talk to a crisis counselor, text a crisis counselor, suicide prevention, help for suicide ideation, national mental health help, Minnesota mental health hotline, suicide prevention number, suicide prevention help • July 21, 2022

Across the country, mental health issues are soaring, exacerbated by the pandemic, racial injustice, income equality, political tensions and global warming. In Minnesota, the need for mental health resources is just as serious. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “From 2016 through 2020, there were more than 10,000 hospital visits for self-harm injuries (i.e., suicide attempts) in Minnesota, and those were mostly among people ages 10-24, predominantly females. Each year about 75-80% of suicide deaths are among males.” 

To meet the increasing need and make getting help easier, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — rolled out a new national number for people experiencing a mental health crisis: 988. People across the country can text or call the number. You can also access an online chat feature here. Individuals can also call 988 if they’re concerned about a loved one who needs crisis support.

Anyone in the U.S. who needs support for a suicidal, mental health or substance use crisis can reach out to 988. The line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Star Tribune states, “Callers will first hear a greeting message while their call is routed to a local crisis center (based on the caller's area code). 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.” The 988 number builds on Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers, which have been open since 2005.

“I think creating this number was important because it will offer an easier number to remember, allow for faster response times for those in a mental health crisis, and make it easier for those in a crisis to get help. It will help alleviate many phone calls to 911, which isn't designed to help with mental health crises,” says Amber Bloom, Fraser Mental Health Professional Service Lead. 

Calling 911 dispatches emergency medical services, fire and police, while calling 988 focuses on serving people in a mental health crisis. However, if there's a drug overdose or a person’s life is in immediate danger — for example, if they have a firearm — you should still call 911. If a crisis counselor fears an immediate risk to the caller’s life, they may also call 911. 

There are currently four call centers in Minnesota, but Lifeline has plans to expand and provide more support throughout the country. You can find more information at