When to call 988 vs. 911

As National Mental Health Awareness Month wraps up, it is important to remember one simple telephone and text number 988. This number could save someone’s life. While this number has been in existence for almost a year now, it can never hurt to get a refresher, spread the word, or teach someone new about it. Read on to learn more about 988, and how it can help.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you in partnership with Trinity Health Systems.

The telephone and text line 988 shifts away from the 1-800-273-8255 Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which still works for a few more years. However, the goal of 988 is to have it more accessible in people’s minds and easier to remember. Just like the old Lifeline a licensed trained mental health counselor or therapist will answer the goal to support a person through a crisis. This now encompasses a mental health crisis, not just suicide.

A person could call 988 if they are experiencing:
  • A panic attack
  • Extreme depression
  • Severe anxiety
  • Overuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Talking about suicide
  • Self-injury that does not require immediate medical attention
What about when it becomes a mental health emergency and there is a need to call 911:
  • Active suicide threat
  • Threatening to harm others
  • Self-harm that needs medical attention
  • Apparent overdose
  • Inability to care for oneself

If a person is not sure whether they should call 988 or 911 the trained counselor will call 911 if it comes to an emergency, and they will be transferred.

There is no shame in seeking help whether by calling 988 or 911. Remember you are not alone. Reach out for support.

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