988 lifeline access secured throughout state last year
√ Toolkit useful for educators, home and health care providers, and families discussing mental health and suicide risk
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the “successful rollout” of New York state’s 988 community education and awareness toolkit, an interactive resource tool designed to support individuals facing suicide-risk.
988 is the three-digit number available in many areas nationally that will connect the caller to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. New York’s 988 toolkit, developed by the New York State Office of Mental Health, includes marketing and educational resources to help educate the public.
“Since the statewide launch of the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, one simple call can be the difference between life and death,” Hochul said. “This new educational toolkit for schools, caregivers and families in need builds on our ongoing public education campaign on the key signs and risks associated with suicide, and gives New Yorkers the resources to address the mental health crisis our nation is facing.”
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Thanks to Gov. Hochul’s support, New York was able to fully implement the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, which has already served more than 152,000 New Yorkers in less than one year. Our new toolkit will help to increase awareness of 988 and allow people to easily share educational materials to help spread the word about 988.”
New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is a tremendous resource for New Yorkers in need and demonstrates Gov. Hochul’s commitment to addressing the mental health and overdose crisis facing our nation. The toolkit will help raise awareness of 988 and the opportunity for individuals in crisis to connect with caring support.”
New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld said, “The 988 line can help people experiencing crisis to access emergency supports, which provides an immediate lifeline to critical services while avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits and enabling people to safely remain at home with their families. OPWDD is really excited about this partnership with the Office of Mental Health to make the 988 crisis call center accessible to people with developmental disabilities and their families as an important tool for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis.”
Hochul’s team said, “The New York 988 toolkit contains marketing and educational materials including brochures, cards, posters, social media graphics, infographics, and other resources all available in New York state’s top nine languages (in addition to English). The materials in the toolkit were developed with the input from the expansive NYS 988 coalition of diverse community stakeholders. The 988 community education and awareness toolkit, as well as all the other 988 resources developed by OMH, can be found here: ‘988: More than a Number.’
“Contacting 988 by phone, chat or text provides a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care, and support for anyone experiencing mental health or substance use related distress. The 988 lifeline is helping to remove obstacles to accessing health care and reduce disparities for historically marginalized and underserved populations, including 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.
“The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is also helping to reduce the use of law enforcement in response to a mental health crisis, and, by providing cost-effective early intervention, reducing healthcare costs.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 988 as the new three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law in October 2020, with the requirement for all phone service providers to transition to 988 as the number for the newly branded 988 suicide and crisis lifeline by July 16, 2022.
Hochul’s team said, “Since April 2021, New York has been working with an expansive NYS 988 coalition, which includes 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.
Hochul’s team said, “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 988 Call Volume
In the first year of 988, New York has received well over 185,000 calls routed directly to the NYS 988 contact centers. This is nearly a 30% increase in annual call volume. By the launch of 988 in July 2022, New York had successfully implemented 24/7 in-state primary coverage for all 62 counties. In June 2023, New York achieved 24/7 in-state coverage for chat and text, marking full coverage for all modalities of 988 by the one-year 988 launch anniversary.