- 988 is a direct three-digit number to trained Suicide and Crisis Lifeline specialists
- 988 is free and available 24/7, 365 days a year via phone call, text, or chat (988lifeline.org/chat)
- 988 can be used anytime, anywhere you or a loved one is in emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts
- Trained Lifeline specialists, who are not licensed clinicians, are available to provide free, confidential emotional support to all callers
- You do not need to be suicidal to call 988
- With an easy to remember number like 988, the Lifeline reaches people in emotional distress and connects them to services if needed
What to expect when you contact 988
When you call 988:
- Your call will be routed to a call center based on your area code
- All calls will be answered by a highly trained staff or volunteer who will provide compassionate, non-judgmental support
- Although the number is shorter, it will still connect you to the same service which has been available in Massachusetts for many years
When you text 988:
- When you text to 988, you will complete a brief survey before connecting to a group of Lifeline crisis centers that respond to chat and text
- Once connected, a Lifeline specialist will listen to you, work to understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share resources that may be helpful
When you use the chat feature on 988lifeline.org/chat:
- You will complete a pre-chat survey before being connected with a specialist that identifies the main area of concern
- If there is a wait to chat with a crisis counselor, a wait-time message will appear. If demand is high, you call 988 or access the Lifeline’s resources while waiting.
- Once connected, a crisis counselor will listen to you, work to understand how your problem is affecting you, provide support, and share resources that may be helpful
988 accessibility and services available for specific groups
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7:
- Service members, veterans, and their families may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing 988, as well as by chatting online at veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255
- The Spanish Language Line can be reached by pressing 2 after dialing 988. Chat and text are also available in Spanish.
- LGBTQ+ youth may reach the LGBTQ+ youth network by pressing 3 after dialing 988
- Additional language translation services are available to all callers through telephonic interpreter services provided at the call center
Frequently asked questions
Who is 988 for?
Anyone. 988 is for anyone in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. It is also for an individual who is worried about a loved one and not sure how to support that person or where to get them help. Lifeline specialists are available to provide free, confidential emotional support to all callers.
Did the 1-800-273-8255 Lifeline number go away?
No. The 800 number will still direct you to the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Dialing either 988 or 1-800-273-8255 will get you to the same crisis call centers and services, no matter which number you use.
How will 988, 911, and the Emergency Services Program interact?
Increased collaboration between 988, 911, and the Behavioral Health Help Line provides more options for those in crisis, such as dispatching mobile crisis teams to individuals in mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis rather than police, fire, or EMS. However, when someone is at imminent risk for suicide, meaning that a suicide attempt will occur shortly or is already in progress, 911 will continue to be dispatched, in keeping with current best practices.
How is 988 different from the Behavioral Health Help Line?
While 988 is intended for individuals in emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts, the Behavioral Health Help Line (BHHL) connects individuals and families to the full range of treatment services for mental health and substance use offered in Massachusetts, including outpatient, urgent, and immediate crisis care.
BHHL offers real-time support, initial clinical assessment, and connection to the right evaluation and treatment. To access these services, call or text 833-773-2445 or visit masshelpline.com to chat online.
If I call 988, will they find my location and send it to 911 without my consent?
988 does not contact or share any information with emergency services such as 911, police or fire, unless a person’s life is in danger.
- Fewer than 2% of calls to 988 in MA require emergency intervention
- In accordance with the imminent risk policy established by the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988 call takers do not contact emergency services without a caller’s permission unless a suicide attempt is in progress or likely to happen in a very short period
- View policy and best practices at 988lifeline.org/best-practices
Who answers the phone when I call 988?
All calls are answered by a highly trained staff member or volunteer who will provide compassionate, non-judgmental support.
The vast majority of 988 callers are served by the helpline directly, through which Massachusetts’ 988 centers work collaboratively with callers to provide compassionate support. Lifeline specialists provide compassionate, non judgmental listening. They also offer assistance with de-escalation and safety planning to help individuals through the least restrictive means possible.
When I call 988, where is my call routed to?
Calls are routed based on the area code of your landline or cell phone number. For example, if the caller’s phone number has a 617 area code, the call will be routed to the call center nearest to Boston.
Is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline a brand-new lifeline?
No, although the number is shorter, it will still connect to the same crisis services that have been available in Massachusetts for many years, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If I don’t feel comfortable talking to someone on the phone. Is there text or chat available?
Yes, you can text 988 and chat is available through the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988lifeline.org.
Contact for About the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Free and confidential. Call or text anytime, available 24/7. | Veterans: Press 1, Spanish Line: Press 2, LGBTQ+ Youth: Press 3 | TTY Users: use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988