The designation of 988 as the new three-digit dialing code to route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will go into effect across the United States beginning today. RiverValley Behavioral Health serves as the regional 988 Lifeline center, one of 170 nationwide.
When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained call takers who are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. The workers will be available 24/7/365 to listen, understand, provide support, and connect clients to resources, if necessary.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline would work in a similar fashion as 911, but for mental health crises where, instead of dispatching officers, callers will be connected with mental health professionals.
RiverValley will also have its Mobile Crisis Unit available to dispatch to 988 callers in its service area who are in need of additional crisis assistance outside of what they are able to receive over the phone, including face-to face interaction and mental health evaluation.
The hotline will serve as a vital tool in preventing suicide, which is prevalent in Kentucky and throughout the U.S., with recent data reporting suicide as the leading cause of death for those ages 10-34 nationwide, and the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults in Kentucky.
The hotline is also available to those experiencing a substance-use related crisis, or those simply needing someone to talk to.
“By reducing the 10-digit Lifeline number to 3 easy-to-remember digits, we are removing another potential barrier for those seeking help for themselves or someone else, and RiverValley is proud to be part of this,” said Dr. Lionel Phelps, vice president for continuous quality improvement. “Every call, chat, and text, is vitally important, and individuals that find themselves in need of crisis services will now have an even greater opportunity to be connected with the care they need.”
The implementation of the 988 National Suicide Hotline has been in the works since October 2020. The current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally.
Additionally, RiverValley’s regional crisis line (270-684-9466 or 1-800-433-7291 TDD – Hearing Impaired) will also remain operational and can be reached by phone, text, or by visiting our website at RVBH.com and selecting the “In Crisis” tab.
To learn more about 988 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.