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988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and Michigan Crisis & Access Line
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a 24/7 toll-free nationwide hotline, made up of a network of independently operated and funded local call centers (200+) across the country.
As of July 16, 2022, 988 will be the new three-digit dialing code connecting people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), where compassionate care and accessible support is available for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress—whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
Moving to 988 does not mean the 1-800-273-8255 number goes away. After July 16, 2022, using either number will get people to the same services. In the end, 988 is an easier-to-remember way to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers. 988 is not intended only for suicide-related crises. The Lifeline responds 24/7 to calls, chats, or texts from anyone who needs support for suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis, and connects those in need with trained crisis counselors.
Michigan’s 988 Implementation
The Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) is Michigan’s statewide crisis and access line. The MiCAL staff answer Michigan’s 988 calls. It does have its’ own number because it predates 988, but Michiganders can call either number to get help. The Michigan Legislature gave Michigan an advantage by codifying and funding the Michigan Crisis and Access Line back in 2020. In doing so, the Michigan Legislature gave Michigan a head start in developing a comprehensive statewide call center.
Public awareness activities and marketing are set to begin in early 2023. Our current focus and priority is to develop and strengthen infrastructure to increase Michigan’s capacity to meet needs and requirements. Once solidified, we will focus our efforts on marketing and advertising the 988-dialing code throughout Michigan.
What is 988?988 is a direct, three-digit, and easy to remember phone number to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call takers. Beginning July 16, 2022, 988 will be available 24/7, 365 days a year. Trained counselors, who are not clinicians, are available to provide free, confidential emotional support for people in distress and answer all calls at local crisis call centers. With an easy to remember number like 988, the Lifeline hopes to reach many more people in emotional crisis and connect those to services if needed.
What is MiCAL?The Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) is Michigan’s statewide crisis and access line. It is Michigan’s central crisis line that accepts 988 calls, texts, and chats originating from Michigan. MiCAL is not a replacement for Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSP), Crisis Lines, and Specialist Crisis Services. CMHSP crisis lines fill an important role of providing integrated crisis care for people who receive CMHSP services.
What is the difference between 988 and MiCAL?In Michigan, MiCAL and 988 are not two separately staffed crisis lines. While MiCAL and 988 are two separate numbers, MiCAL is responsible for answering 988 calls in all areas of Michigan. In Macomb and Kent counties, Macomb County Community Mental Health and Network 180 will be primarily responsible for answering calls and MiCAL will provide back up call coverage.
Why do we need 988?Behavioral health support and suicide prevention are critical needs. Since 2008, suicide has ranked as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. The adoption of the new three-digit number reflects a commitment to delivering necessary intervention services. Like using 911 for emergency calls, switching to an easy-to-remember 988 for suicide prevention and mental health crisis services will make it easier for Americans in crisis to access the help they need and decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues.
Who is 988 for?Anyone. 988 is for anyone in emotional distress or having a behavioral health or suicidal crisis. It is also for an individual who is worried about a loved one and not sure how to support that person or where to get them help. Trained counselors, who are not clinicians, are available to provide free, confidential emotional support to all callers.
Is 988 only for suicide-related-crisis?No. With the implementation of 988, the Lifeline’s purpose is expanding to provide support for people with any behavioral health crisis (crisis is defined by the caller). It is no longer just for people who are feeling suicidal.
When does 988 take effect?988 will go live on July 16, 2022. Individuals who need help today should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 1-800-273- 8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chat, suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
Is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number (NSPL) going away?No. Moving to 988 does not mean that the 800 number goes away. Dialing either number will get people to the same services, no matter which number they use. In the end, 988 is an easier-to-remember way for people to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers. The same centers that answer the 800 number will answer 988.
How will 988, 911, and the Emergency Services Program interact?Increased collaboration between 988, 911, and the Emergency Services Program will give more options for those in crisis, such as dispatching mobile crisis teams to individuals in mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis rather than police, fire, or EMS, and greater coordination of care options like crisis stabilization units.
How does 988 impact the Veterans Crisis Line?Veterans can use this new option to access the Veterans Crisis line by dialing 988 then pressing 1. Veterans may still reach the Veterans Crisis Line with the current phone number—1-800-273-8255 and Press 1— through chat, and by text (838255). For more information, please visit: What is 988? (veteranscrisisline.net)
What languages will 988 services be available?The Lifeline currently provides live crisis center calling services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages. Text and chat are currently available in English only.
Will 988 accommodate those who are hard of hearing or blind?The Lifeline currently serves TTY users either through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Lifeline also offers services through chat and text. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals seeking help through the Lifeline/988.
Why can't I see publicized materials on 988 in Michigan?Michigan is currently implementing a soft rollout for 988 per Vibrant’s recommendations. We plan to start public awareness activities and marketing in January 2023. We will focus on developing and strengthening infrastructure (resources, staff, and coordination) in the first several months and when that is solidified, we will focus our efforts on marketing and advertising the 988-dialing code throughout Michigan.
When can I start sharing materials on 988?Currently, we are more than happy to provide our stakeholders and community partners with more information on 988, its implementation, and how they can get involved, but we are asking said stakeholders and community partners not to publish or share this information. Michigan has begun the process of gradually rolling out 988 to the state, but to ensure that there is a flawless transition and not to overburden the call centers all at once Michigan has chosen to utilize a soft rollout method. Marketing efforts for 988 will be initiated at the beginning of 2023.
What can I, or my organization, do if we want to get involved in 988?
More Information & ResourcesMichigan 988 & MiCAL Quick Facts
Michigan 988 Implementation & Rollout PPT
988 Frequently Asked Questions | SAMHSA
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline | SAMHSA
Vibrant and 988
By the Numbers: Lifeline (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
What is 988? (veteranscrisisline.net)
Michigan Legislature. (2020). Public Act 12 of 2020.
Michigan Legislature (2020). Michigan Compiled Law at 330.1165.
Related Bills - S.2661 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
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