988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

How Does Lifeline (“988”) Work?

Lifeline (also known as “988”) is a free, support line for those in suicidal or mental health and/or substance abuse crisis. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

There is a network of more than 200 state and local call centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Substance Abuse Administration and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health. Three of those, including one at AltaPointe, are in Alabama. Two additional call centers in the state are expected to come online the first half of 2023.

Calls to 988 are automatically route by area code to the nearest crisis center based on the area code of the caller's phone number. Callers hear an automated greeting upon answer, with instructions to select options for specific needs, such as veterans’ services or a Spanish speaking attendant. Most callers are connected with a live individual for help within 30 seconds of the automated greeting.

If in-state callers are unable to be routed to a local or Alabama-based call center, those callers are routed to a national 988 back up crisis center.

988 FAQ

How is 988 different from 911?

988 was established to meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 provides easier access to crisis support and resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911 (where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police as needed).

What about funding for 988?

Funding is provided through state and federal sources – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the federal level and the Alabama Department of Mental Health for the state. ADMH received a two-year grant for $1.42 million to assist with building capacity and readiness efforts. Funding is based upon population and divided between the state regions that provide call center services to Alabamians who seek help via 988.

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