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Hochul announces successful implementation of 988 suicide & crisis lifeline


Thu, Jul 14th 2022 09:10 pm

State has secured full coverage of all 62 counties for the launch of 988

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced what her team called “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, her team said, “will ensure that anyone with a New York area code contacting 988 will be connected to one of New York's 988 crisis centers.”

Hochul explained, "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. 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."

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado added, "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. 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 fiscal year 2023 enacted budget included $35 million to significantly expand 988 crisis call center capacity throughout New York. 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 also received a $7.2 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to aid in the rollout of the new 988 line.

Hochul’s team said, “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 was described as being 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 health care.

There are currently 13 operating 988 crisis contact centers in New York state, with 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. Gov. 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."

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 coalition of community stakeholders to plan for the implementation of 988 in the state.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was originally funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and has been administered by Vibrant Emotional Health since it began in 2005.

Between 2005-20, 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% increase since 2016. In 2020, NYS received 142,827 calls, a 13% increase in just one year.

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