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988 crisis line implementation (HB 1477)
In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated 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 (FCC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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In Washington, the legislature passed HB 1477 (E2SHB 1477), the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act, to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for all people in Washington State. This bill established the Crisis Response improvement Strategy (CRIS) committee, which will develop recommendations to support implementation of the work in the bill.
The 988 dialing code will be available nationally for call, text, or chat beginning on July 16, 2022. Increased collaboration between crisis service providers aims to reduce the use of emergency room and police departments, while increasing options for those in crisis and improving system coordination around access to care.
- 988 will be confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors.
- Access to the NSPL is available through every land line, cell phone, and voice-over internet devices in the United States.
- 988 services will be available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 250 languages.
- The 988 dialing code will be available for call, text, and chat by July 16, 2022. Until then, those in crisis should continue to use 1-800-273-8255, which will function even after July 16.
- The nationwide implementation of the 988 three-digit call, text, and chat line is just the first important step in re-imagining crisis support in the U.S.
- 988 calls go directly to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline member centers. The ten-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will remain active.
- 988 calls are routed by the caller’s area code. Washington, including regional member centers, do not control routing at this time.
- Washington will launch a line, the Native and Strong Lifeline, dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals calling the 988 crisis line. The Native and Strong Lifeline will work in partnership with the Indian Behavioral Health Hub, a resource support line for tribes, urban Indian organizations, families and non-tribal providers who support tribal and urban Indian communities to identify resources and follow up with those accessing the 988 crisis line.
- 988 is added but all of the existing phone lines and services people are familiar with and utilize do NOT go away.
- There will be no changes to dispatch for Designated Crisis Responders and mobile crisis response teams or the functions of any other regional crisis service.
- The NSPL Lifeline crisis centers will continue to operate their services in accordance with NSPL Lifeline standards and connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as usual.