Call 988 for mental health crisis support

By The Health News Team | September 5, 2022
Young girl reads her phone in the dark

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in the U.S. The new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was created in hopes of changing that statistic.

Since 2005, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, has received more than 23 million calls from people experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts and seeking support. It is now reachable by calling or texting just three numbers — 988 — from anywhere in the country.

“When getting help becomes easier and more accessible, we start taking away the barriers to receiving care,” says Veronica Campbell, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “988 is modeled after 911 by being a memorable and quick number that connects you to a trained mental health professional rather than emergency services.”

About 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. People who call or text 988 are quickly connected to a trained counselor. The counselor will listen to the caller and work to understand what they are experiencing. The counselor will provide support, help the caller identify ways to feel better, and connect them with needed help and resources.

“Helping someone find a pathway to healing and recovery and reducing suicide are the main goals of the dedicated mental health professionals at 988,” Campbell says. “This approach is tailored to quickly deescalate a mental health crisis or prevent crisis from occurring by immediately responding with support and resources to cope with whatever it is that someone is struggling with.”

In San Diego, calls and texts made to 988 will be connected to the county’s Access and Crisis Line (ACL), which can also be reached by calling 888-724-7240 or via Up2SD.org. The ACL offers support and resources in over 200 languages from experienced counselors on all behavioral health, mental health and substance use topics, including:

  • Alcohol and substance use support services

  • Crisis intervention

  • Mobile crisis response services

  • Mental health referrals

  • Suicide prevention

According to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, crises are commonly deescalated during 988 calls, with less than 2% of calls requiring emergency services. Additionally, studies of calls to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline show that after speaking with a counselor, the majority of callers are significantly more likely to feel:

  • Less depressed

  • Less suicidal

  • Less overwhelmed

  • More hopeful

“Many people who are struggling with their mental health or thinking about suicide often feel alone, but talking to someone can help,” Campbell says. “Know that you are not alone, many people you know — including your family, friends and colleagues — have struggled before. This call can offer you support, encouragement and validation, which are often what many of us need in a vulnerable time.”

Additional mental health resources
The previous National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number, 1-800-273-8255, will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. A chat feature is also available via the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline website or Up2SD.org.

Additionally, mental health care for people of all ages in San Diego is available at Sharp. Expert medical teams include affiliated doctors and psychiatrists, experienced nurses, licensed therapists and certified counselors to treat anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and more.

However, if you or a loved one are in crisis or at immediate risk of self-harm, it is important to go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Learn about mental health care at Sharp and find a Sharp emergency room.


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