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Lincoln – After two years of planning and preparation, the new three-digit suicide prevention line, 988, will go live on Saturday, July 16.
In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to operate 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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs and Vibrant Health.
The Lifeline, 988, is more than just an easy-to-remember number—it is a direct connection to trained, compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress or thoughts of suicide. 988 will provide easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from 911 (where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire, and police as needed). Callers to 911 talk with a person who answers the phone. With 988, the caller experience will be different. Lifeline centers utilize the Vibrant Emotional Health Lifeline technology, which means callers to 988 will hear some automated prompts before hearing a counselor's voice.
“Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and an indicator that someone needs help," said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Talking about wanting to die by suicide is not a typical response to stress. All talk of suicide should be taken seriously and requires immediate attention. 988 will continue to help us move toward our goal of zero suicides in Nebraska."
Moving to 988 does not mean the 1-800-273-8255 number goes away. After July 16, 2022, using either number will get people to the same services.
“We know that it can be hard to start conversations about mental health, but they are very important conversations and could save a life," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at Nebraska DHHS. It is never too early to talk about mental health and we don't want the conversation to be too late. Use your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to reach out and offer help if someone is suicidal. If you're unsure if someone is thinking of ending his/her life, ask, or now you can say, 'let's call 988 and talk to someone.' People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support."
Dawson also highlighted the support of the Governor as well as statewide partnerships that planned tirelessly for the implementation of 988.
“I want to thank the amazing Nebraskans who collaborated in planning for 988 implementations," she said. “We are all grateful to those partners who provide behavioral health and 24/7 crisis services every day to individuals with behavioral health challenges. I want to thank our Regions, providers, and behavioral health system partners for their continued partnership in serving Nebraskans. We asked for 988 stakeholder recommendations and we listened to stakeholder feedback, our 988 workgroups, and 988 Advisory Committee. Nebraska is fortunate to have such dedicated partners."
Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to: