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  • NASW-IL Staff

Coming Soon: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

988, the new three-digit number for mental health, substance use and suicidal crises, will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022. Once it goes live, 988 will connect people to trained crisis counselors that can provide de-escalation and mental health intervention services by phone, and ideally coordinate connections to additional services and help in their community.

988 Coming to Illinois

The Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Mental Health (IDHS-DMH) plans to launch 988, a national three-digit dialing code for the Lifeline and for calls. On July 16, individuals experiencing a crisis or any other kind of emotional distress—whether that is related to suicide, mental health and/or substance use crisis—can dial 988 for support. The Lifeline provides information and support to concerned family, friends, and caregivers.

988 is a direct access point to compassionate care by trained professionals. IDHS-DMH’s vision for 988 includes partnering with the six existing Lifeline call centers in Illinois, as well as building upon the existing crisis care continuum into a robust system that links callers to community-based providers who can deliver a full range of crisis care services.

988 is just the beginning, and not the final solution.

How does it work?

Currently, all callers have access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) network by dialing 800-273-8255.

Beginning, July 16, 2022, 988 will be launched as the three-digit dialing code. 988 will be a direct access point, providing greater access to life-saving services and compassionate care.

At the beginning of the call, callers have the option to select the Veterans Crisis Line or the Spanish language Crisis Line. If the caller with an Illinois area code does not select either of those options, they will be routed to an Illinois Lifeline Call Center. If after 3 minutes, the call is not answered by a live person, the caller is routed to the NSPL backup affiliate network, which includes call centers that operate in other states.

What to Expect from 988?

Calls placed to 988 will follow the same methods described above. In the coming months, text and chat services will be available for users. Callers who are connected with the Illinois Lifeline will receive specialized, individualized support by trained call takers trained in suicide prevention, de-escalation and stabilization, and resources.

Share Your Thoughts

As 988 launches, it's important to gather information from the communities across our state (i.e., individuals who use or have used mental health crisis services, their families/friends/loved ones, any concerned individuals). The Department of Human Services-Division of Mental Health is recruiting volunteers to join focus groups. These will ask how best to share this important mental health, substance use, and emotional support resource with the public.

To see the full list of focus groups and their dates, click the link to the flyer below:

988 IL Focus Group Involvement Flyer 07.07.22
Download PDF • 54KB

For more information, go to the 988 Hub at:

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