988. This is If anyone in the United States is suicidal or suffering from mental distress, they can call or text for help. You are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of Americans think about suicide every year. No matter how frustrated or isolated you are, seek help.
You can also call 988 if you have a substance use-related crisis. When you contact 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a counselor will listen to your experience. A counselor may discuss strategies to make you feel better and help you find additional resources.
In addition to making hotline calls and texting, you can also access browser-based chat on your computer for assistance. Veterans and Spanish speakers who contact the 988 number may choose to be redirected to a crisis line that provides professional support. You can contact the Veterans Crisis Line directly by texting 838255.
I spoke with Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to find out what people can expect when they call 988 for the first time. “They can expect to connect with a well-trained counselor who is compassionate and will be with them,” she said. “Someone is there and talks to them about what they’re going through.”
If you are not experiencing emotional distress personally, but are concerned about the well-being of a friend or family member and need help with a dire situation, you can contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Delphin-Rittmon said: “We want people to know that if they are struggling, or know someone who is struggling, we have support. They don’t need to be alone; they can lend a hand. There is support and training advisors can help.”
The old number for the federal hotline – 1-800-273-8255 – still works and reroutes calls to 988 service. Switching to shorter numbers helps people remember free services and know who to contact if they think about suicide.
In the rare event that in-person intervention is required, a support adviser may send in the police. With this in mind, the 988 hotline can be a lifesaver for communities concerned about police violence and reluctant to call 911 for mental health support. After contacting 988, the vast majority will not have any interaction with the police.
Queer youth in distress can turn to the Trevor Project for help. Call 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678, or connect via web chat. It is common for young members of the LGBTQ+ community to experience emotional distress due to marginalization, and there is no shame in seeking help. About 45 percent of queer 13- to 24-year-olds have considered suicide, according to the Trevor Project’s latest survey on the mental health of LGBTQ youth in the United States.
Anyone who needs support and wants to speak with someone who understands their unique experience can call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. You don’t need to publicly identify as trans to call. This Lifeline will not contact the police or other outside services without your express consent.
If you are Black, Native American, neurodivergent, or a mother with postpartum depression, please visit the 988 Helpline website to find additional resources and outside services. Additional resources for survivors of suicide attempts and lost survivors are also available on the website.
If you’re no longer in an immediate crisis and want to learn more about accessing mental health resources online, check out WIRED contributor Julie Charnet’s excellent article to help readers understand the often confusing process. Looking for more resources, especially free ones? If you know where to look, you might be surprised by the level of mental health support available on social media.
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