NY implements 988 suicide and crisis lifeline in all 62 counties

Posted 15 July 2022 at 9:45 am

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the successful implementation of 988 in New York State as the new three-digit number to call or text to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

All 62 counties in New York State will be covered for the launch of the new 988 Lifeline, which will ensure that anyone with a New York area code contacting 988 will be connected to one of New York’s 988 crisis centers.

“Connecting people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or considering suicide to trained counselors can significantly help them through difficulties that seem insurmountable, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides hope and support to those who need it most,” Hochul said. “By implementing 988, we are providing these individuals, as well as their families and friends, an easy-to-remember number that will give them access to the services they need.”

The FY 2023 Enacted Budget included $35 million to significantly expand 988 crisis call center capacity throughout New York State. This funding will increase to $60 million on a full annual basis starting in FY 2024.

OMH has also allocated one-time funding of $10 million in federal supplemental Community Mental Health Services Block Grant resources to the 988 crisis call centers, allowing them to expand statewide capacity and infrastructure. New York State also received a $7.2 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to aid in the rollout of the new 988 Lifeline.

Calling 988 provides a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health or substance abuse related distress. A chat feature will also be available through the Lifeline’s website (988lifeline.org).

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will be able to:

  • Connect people experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis to a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs and help connect them to ongoing care.
  • Reduce health care spending with more cost-effective early intervention.
  • Reduce use of law enforcement, public health, and other safety resources.
  • Meet the growing need for crisis intervention.
  • Help end stigma toward those seeking or accessing mental healthcare.

The new 988 Lifeline will also help achieve another one of Governor Hochul’s goals – removing obstacles to healthcare and reducing disparities in access, quality, and treatment outcomes for historically marginalized, underserved and unserved populations. This includes people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, older adults, rural New Yorkers, veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities and people who have limited English proficiency.

There are currently 13 operating 988 crisis contact centers in New York State and two in the development stage.

988 History

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law in October 2020, with the requirement for phone service providers to transition to 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

Since then, New York has been working with a large coalition of diverse community stakeholders to plan for the implementation of 988 in the State. The Statewide coalition members represent New York’s diverse population and includes individuals with lived experience, advocates, law enforcement, representatives from state agencies, counties, 911 representatives, emergency services, and more. All have contributed their expertise and commitment to the implementation of 988, and their ongoing collaboration and dedication to this groundbreaking work will benefit all New Yorkers.

About the Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was originally funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and has been administered by Vibrant Emotional Health since it began in 2005. It has served as an invaluable resource, helping thousands of people overcome suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress every day. With the transition to 988, these life-saving services will be even easier to reach.

Numerous studies have shown that the Lifeline works—most callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a Lifeline crisis counselor.

Statistics on New York/National 988 Call Volume

Between 2005 and 2020, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received a total of 20,478,698 calls.

In 2019, the NSPL received 137,481 calls originating from New York, a 73 percent increase since 2016. In 2020, NYS received 142,827 calls, a 13 percent increase in just one year. New York’s robust investments and advanced planning will ensure that calls originating from New York are answered by a local 988 crisis contact center and that we are prepared for the significant increase in call volume that is expected over the next five years.