DHHS Awarded 988 State Planning Grant by Vibrant Emotional Health

News Release
For Immediate Release: 2/2/2021

Julie Naughton, Office of Communications, (402) 471-1695 (office); (402) 405-7202 (cell);



Grant funding will help Nebraska prepare for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 988 dialing code launch​

Lincoln –  The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Divisions of Behavioral Health and Public Health have received the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 988 State Planning Grant through Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. ​

In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Anyone needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.

The grant will help DHHS and other partners participate in the development of a strategic plan to address projected infrastructure needs, volume growth, and access to the Lifeline's new 988 number in Nebraska. Vibrant has awarded grants to 49 states and territories. 

“Access to mental health and crisis support has never been more critical for Americans," said Kimberly Williams, president and chief executive officer of Vibrant Emotional Health.  “Vibrant is committed to providing states and territories with some of the resources they'll need to plan for the implementation of 988 and to support their local crisis systems. By working together, we will increase access to care, reduce the stigma around mental health and, ultimately, save lives."

Alongside the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, NAMI-Nebraska, the Boys Town National Hotline, and numerous other system partners, DHHS will review coordination, capacity, funding, and communications surrounding the launch of 988. DHHS will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience and others to create a 988 implementation plan related to the Lifeline's operational, clinical, and performance standards that allow access to care. 

“We know some Nebraskans and their families are experiencing greater distress in this midst of the pandemic. The Nebraska Family Helpline has seen an increase calls relating to suicidal behaviors -–  which includes self-injury threats, self-injury, suicide threats and suicide attempts as reported by parents/callers in regards to a child – since the pandemic began," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at DHHS. “This planning grant gives Nebraska an opportunity to strengthen our existing behavioral health crisis continuum and services to help save lives."

“Suicide is a major public health concern that impacts individuals, families and communities in Nebraska," said Dr. Gary Anthone, chief medical officer and director of the DHHS Division of Public Health. “This effort seeks to help Nebraskans to live full lives. Nebraska is fortunate to have experts in this field and the Division of Public Health is pleased to collaborate with the Division of Behavioral Health in establishing to have their partnership as we work to establish 988 as the National Suicide Prevention hotline for Nebraska."

“Boys Town looks forward to partnering with DHHS to make the 988 transition successful in our state," said Ginny Gohr, director of the Boys Town National Hotline. “Boys Town has been helping kids and families for over 100 years and has operated as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center for Nebraska for the last 20 years. We are pleased to be a part of this new system that will make it even easier for struggling families to receive mental health support."

Funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the U.S. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 180 local crisis centers, uniting local resources with national best practices. Since its inception in 2005, the Lifeline has engaged in innovative public messaging, development of best practices in mental health, creative partnerships, and more to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all. More is available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Vibrant Emotional Health is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families achieve emotional wellbeing. For over 50 years, it has offered confidential emotional support through state-of-the-art contact center and crisis hotline services using telephone, text and web-based technologies and support Lifeline, NFL Life Line and NYC Well. Each year, Vibrant helps more than 2.5 million people live healthier and more vibrant lives.

Additionally, a suicide prevention campaign is in the final planning stages. Just like efforts with 911 and education on the signs of a heart attack, and learning CPR, the planning effort for 988, and educating Nebraskans on what to do when someone is experiencing thoughts of suicide will help save lives.   

If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:​

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454, llámanos para español.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline, (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español), or text TalkWithUs for English, llámanos para español, 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)
  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116  
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) ​

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