Three-digit lifeline 988 finally launching Saturday to give immediate care to those in crisis

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 2:58 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) -The easy to remember, three-digit lifeline 988 is finally launching on Saturday to give immediate care to those in crisis.

11 News spoke with the newly formed, statewide Behavioral Health Administration about Colorado joining the rest of the United States in beginning to use the 988 dialing code on Saturday, July 16th, 2022.

“We don’t heal in isolation. That’s something we can all agree on after the last couple of years. And it’s okay, it’s okay to be struggling, it is normal to be struggling, but it’s just as normal to get support,” said Kelly Bowman, 988 Enterprise Program Manager.

According to the 988 lifeline website, beginning on Saturday, when someone calls, texts or chats 988, they will be connected to trained counselors. There will also be a prompt for veterans seeking care through the VA. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

“When you are in struggle, the ability to make decisions is really, really tough to do. Whether you can’t find your keys in the morning, or because you are having anxiety at 2 o’clock in the morning. Remembering which number am I supposed to call, should I text, what should I do?” said Bowman. “When we promote a number that’s easy to remember, and we use self-defying crisis as the standard, that’s going to give folks permission and make it much easier to actually access support and help.”

Not only is 988 for suicide prevention, but for any “self-defying crisis,” such as emotional distress, substance use support and more. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

“I look forward to the day where we can have more conversations about mental health, where that is a very normalized topic with friends and in schools and in businesses, because we all struggle with our emotional health and wellness at times,” said Bowman.

988 will route calls based on your area code from the phone you are calling from. For example, if you call 988 using a 719 area code phone, you will be routed to a crisis center in Colorado. However, if you have an out-of-state area code in Colorado, you will be routed back to that state’s crisis centers.

The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) recognizes that many people in Colorado do not have a phone number with a Colorado area code. While Colorado works to build 988 staffing capacity and address call routing, BHA will continue to promote the statewide crisis line at 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255.

The current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will also always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally.

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