New three-digit suicide prevention line 988 begins July 16

Updated 2 years ago on October 17, 2022

In 2020, Congress designated a new dialing code 988 to work through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the lead federal agency in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Vibrant Health.

The 988 Lifeline is not just an easy-to-remember number, it is a direct link to qualified, compassionate, affordable help and support for anyone experiencing mental anguish or suicidal thoughts. 988 will provide easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources that differ from 911 (where the focus is on calling emergency medical services, firefighters and police as needed). Callers to 911 talk to the person who answers the call. In the case of 988, the communication with the caller will be different. Lifeline centers use Vibrant Emotional Health Lifeline technology, so callers to 988 will hear several automatic prompts before hearing the counselor's voice.

"Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and an indicator that a person needs help," said Governor Pete Ricketts. "Talking about wanting to commit suicide is not a typical response to stress. All conversations about suicide must be taken seriously and require immediate attention. The 988 program will continue to help us move toward our goal of zero suicides in Nebraska."

The switch to the 988 number does not mean the 1-800-273-8255 number will disappear. After July 16, 2022, people will be able to get the same services using any of these numbers.

"We know it can be hard to start a conversation about mental health, but it's a very important conversation that can save lives," says Sheri Dawson, director of the Nebraska Department of Health Behavioral Health Division. It's never too early to talk about mental health, and we don't want the conversation to be too late." Use your eyes, ears, heart and mind to reach out and offer help if someone is suicidal. If you're not sure if someone is thinking about ending their life, ask, or now you can say, "Let's call 988 and talk to someone." People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support."

Dawson alsonoted the support of the governor, as well as the state's partner organizations, who have been tireless in planning the implementation of 988.

"I want to thank the wonderful people of Nebraska who collaborated in planning 988 implementations," she said. "We are all grateful to those partners who provide behavioral health services and 24/7 crisis services to people with behavioral health issues every day. I want to thank our regions, providers and behavioral health system partners for their continued collaboration in serving Nebraskans." We solicited 988 stakeholder recommendations, and we listened to feedback from stakeholders, our 988 working groups and 988 Advisory Committee. Nebraska is fortunate to have such dedicated partners."

Do you need to talk or get urgent help in a crisis situation? Help is available. If you or a loved one needs help, contact

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, and beginning July 16, 2022, 988
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Children Hotline: In Nebraska, dial 211
  • Your religious leader, health care provider, or student health center on campus.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline - any question, anytime. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • The helpline is 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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