988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Active

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has transitioned to a 3-digit number, 988.

  • As of July 16, dialing or texting 988 will automatically connect the caller to the National Suicide Prevention lifeline network of services.
  • The traditional 1-800-273-8255 number still works, and callers to either number will be connected to a lifeline counselor at a crisis center geographically closest to them.
  • The change to a three-digit number has been praised for its ease of use, particularly due to the importance of this resource for those struggling with mental health: “I know the life-threatening nature of the suffocating darkness of depression,” said Tony Rose, a retired pastor who counsels and coaches pastors as a Send Relief relational leadership trainer.
  • The official 899 Lifeline site says they provide help to prevent suicide 24/7, are free and confidential offer support for people in distress.
  • Additionally, they offer resources for those whose loved ones are looking for best practices for helloing those in crisis.
  • The suicide prevention website states, “We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.”
  • Retired pastor Tony Rose told The Baptist Press that he understands hesitance, but that he sees mental turmoil frequently amongst religious leaders, including himself at one time: “As most Christians and especially pastors going through depression, I still would have been very hesitant to call [the help line]. But knowing what I know now, I would be extremely grateful for it.”
  • 988 is a government-driven and -funded initiative that Jeremiah Johnston, associate pastor of apologetics and cultural engagement at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, encourages people to take advantage of: “I want to encourage believers; we should all save this number in our contacts as the 988 suicide prevention line.”
  • “We should literally have it saved in our contacts of our phone,” Johnston said. “It’s so helpful to me because I’m out there, and I speak on the frontlines as an apologist, as a pastor and Christian thinker. And so many people don’t even know who to call for help. And so they get paralyzed with silence or a question.”
  • Previously many mental health crisis’ were routed to law enforcement, due to individuals’ in distress calling 911.
  • While law enforcement assisted where they could, many have pointed out that their primary training is not in dealing with mental health emergencies: “Though, most of the time they do a great job, they’re not trained for this,” Rose said.
  • “Now that we have this, [people in crisis] will get directly connected to somebody equipped to deal with it on the phone. And as is often the case in mental illness and crises, a telephone call and a contact can be the difference in life and death.”