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Governor Hochul announces 988 suicide prevention lifeline

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State Has Secured Full Coverage of All 62 Counties for the Launch of 988

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the successful implementation of 988 in New York State as the new three-digit number to call or text to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. All 62 counties in New York State will be covered for the launch of the new 988 Lifeline, which will ensure that anyone with a New York area code contacting 988 will be connected to one of New York’s 988 crisis centers.

“Connecting people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or considering suicide to trained counselors can significantly help them through difficulties that seem insurmountable, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides hope and support to those who need it most,” Governor Hochul said. “By implementing 988, we are providing these individuals, as well as their families and friends, an easy-to-remember number that will give them access to the services they need.”

“It is incumbent upon us as New Yorkers to provide those among us who are struggling with mental health issues with the help they need, when they need it,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “Crisis don’t only happen during business hours, so implementing this lifeline, which is available any time of the day or night, will help save lives.”

The FY 2023 Enacted Budget included $35 million to significantly expand 988 crisis call center capacity throughout New York State. This funding will increase to $60 million on a full annual basis starting in FY 2024. OMH has also allocated one-time funding of $10 million in federal supplemental Community Mental Health Services Block Grant resources to the 988 crisis call centers, allowing them to expand statewide capacity and infrastructure. New York State also received a $7.2 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to aid in the rollout of the new 988 Lifeline.

Calling 988 provides a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health or substance abuse related distress. A chat feature will also be available through the Lifeline’s website (988lifeline.org).

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will be able to:

  • Connect people experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis to a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs and help connect them to ongoing care.
  • Reduce health care spending with more cost-effective early intervention.
  • Reduce use of law enforcement, public health, and other safety resources.
  • Meet the growing need for crisis intervention.
  • Help end stigma toward those seeking or accessing mental healthcare.

The new 988 Lifeline will also help achieve another one of Governor Hochul’s goals – removing obstacles to healthcare and reducing disparities in access, quality, and treatment outcomes for historically marginalized, underserved and unserved populations. This includes people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, older adults, rural New Yorkers, veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities and people who have limited English proficiency.

There are currently 13 operating 988 crisis contact centers in New York State and two in the development stage.

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “The 988 Lifeline will further strengthen New York’s crisis response system by connecting individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis to trained counselors who can provide immediate assistance and access to services. People can also contact 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. Governor Hochul has made implementation of 988 a top priority, and provided the resources needed to successfully launch the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.”

New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham said, “The development of the 988 Lifeline will help to ensure the availability of critical crisis services for individuals suffering from a substance use disorder or mental health emergency. This initiative is an important collaboration between OASAS and OMH to help further integrate behavioral health services and ensure a comprehensive ‘no-wrong door’ approach. Since becoming Commissioner, I have been committed to ensuring equitable access to services, I also am particularly pleased that the Lifeline will help to reach underserved populations and communities.”

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “For individuals in crisis, including those with developmental disabilities, having someone to call who will listen to their challenges and provide support can make a significant impact and difference in their life. The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline will help decrease disproportionate involvement of law enforcement so often experienced by this community and ensure that they are put in touch with someone who can help address their needs during a crisis.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer said, “988 is the new 911 for fellow New Yorkers who are dealing with mental health crises. I am proud we delivered the federal funding to jumpstart this new national lifeline and applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for swiftly implementing it. If you are struggling or need help, know that you are not alone: dial 988.”

Representative Paul Tonko said, “In the midst of a national mental health crisis — made worse by the COVID pandemic — Congress took life-saving action to provide resources that will support millions of Americans. I was proud to vote to deliver $150 million to implement a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as part of our bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This action will equip our state with the tools to help those in crisis. I’m grateful for the swift implementation of this lifeline that begins to address the mental health crisis with the urgency our communities need and deserve.”

Representative Yvette D. Clarke said, “When News Yorkers of every generation and distinct backgrounds share the impossible weight of mental health struggles, the onus is on us, their elected officials, to seek the solutions necessary for their recovery. Thanks to the advocacy of Governor Hochul and her ceaseless commitment to keeping our kids safe, that obligation is being fulfilled, today. The 988 Lifeline is a commonsense, lifesaving opportunity to provide all of our state’s communities with crucial care at the moments it is most needed. As we enter a new chapter in New York’s fight against our nation’s mental health crisis, I look forward to witnessing any future pursuits from Albany with the same noble mission in mind.”

State Senator Samra Brouk said, “Families in our community and across New York State have struggled to connect with safe and medically-sound mental health crisis intervention care, and as we have all seen, the results have been tragic. As Chair of the Senate Mental Health Committee, I am working to transform mental health care, and the successful implementation of the 988 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Crisis Lifeline is an incredible step forward. For the first time ever, you can call, text or chat an easy to remember lifeline in a moment of crisis and speak with someone who is qualified, compassionate and affirming of at-risk protected identities. I look forward to this Lifeline transforming the way we think of mental health crisis response in New York State so that all families feel comfortable reaching out for help when it is needed.”

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health, said, “The implementation of New York’s 988 hotline cannot come at a better time. Throughout the pandemic we have seen families across the state struggle with mental health related issues. This new number will create a streamlined process for getting people the help they need when they need it most. I am proud to have cosponsored the legislation creating 988 in this state, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure it is a trusted resource for all New Yorkers.”

988 History

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 988 as the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law in October 2020, with the requirement for phone service providers to transition to 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

Since then, New York has been working with a large coalition of diverse community stakeholders to plan for the implementation of 988 in the State. The Statewide coalition members represent New York’s diverse population and includes individuals with lived experience, advocates, law enforcement, representatives from state agencies, counties, 911 representatives, emergency services, and more. All have contributed their expertise and commitment to the implementation of 988, and their ongoing collaboration and dedication to this groundbreaking work will benefit all New Yorkers.

About the Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was originally funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and has been administered by Vibrant Emotional Health since it began in 2005. It has served as an invaluable resource, helping thousands of people overcome suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress every day. With the transition to 988, these life-saving services will be even easier to reach.

Numerous studies have shown that the Lifeline works—most callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a Lifeline crisis counselor.

Statistics on New York/National 988 Call Volume

Between 2005 and 2020, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received a total of 20,478,698 calls.

In 2019, the NSPL received 137,481 calls originating from New York, a 73 percent increase since 2016. In 2020, NYS received 142,827 calls, a 13 percent increase in just one year. New York’s robust investments and advanced planning will ensure that calls originating from New York are answered by a local 988 crisis contact center and that we are prepared for the significant increase in call volume that is expected over the next five years.

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