Call 988 for mental health emergencies

Depressed woman laying on the couch on her phone

A new national mental health crisis hotline, 988, launched on Saturday, July 16, 2022. Prior to the implementation of 988, the Boys Town National Hotline was the home of the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Boys Town became the call center for 988 as well as the Nebraska Family Helpline.

In 2021, Boys Town received 8,777 calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Between July 16, 2022 and June 30, 2023, 988 Nebraska received 18,300 calls, more than doubling the previous year.

The following FAQs are provided by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Q: Is 988 like 911?

A: 988 will serve as America’s first three-digit crisis number dedicated to mental health and as an alternative to 911 for mental health-related crises. For example, if someone is having suicidal thoughts, if someone is experiencing delusions, or if someone is displaying severe symptoms of a mental health condition, 988 can provide a specialized, mental health response that will save lives. An individual in crisis, their family member, or even a bystander will be able to immediately reach a trained crisis counselor who can provide phone-based triage, support and local resources. If needed, the counselor can activate a mobile crisis team to deescalate; provide brief therapeutic interventions, and refer for services.

Q: What will happen to the current Lifeline phone number? Is it going away?

A: No. The current Lifeline phone number (1.800.273.8255) will always remain available to people in distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 launches nationally. 988 will be an easier way to access a crisis call centers, but both numbers will be fully operational.

Q: Is the Lifeline available in different languages? What about those who are deaf?

A: There is a Spanish-speaking crisis line, 1.888.624.9454. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1.800.273.8255.

Q: Am I going to be talking to someone in my area?

A: In Nebraska, our call center partner is Boys Town in Omaha.

Q: Why should I trust the Lifeline?

A: The Lifeline’s national network of over 200 crisis centers has been in operation since 2005 and has proven to be effective. More than 20.5 million people have been helped by the Lifeline. It is the counselors at these local crisis centers who answer the contacts the Lifeline receives every day. Numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor.

Q: Why should I call the Lifeline/988?

A: Suicide is most often preventable. For every person who dies by suicide, 280 people seriously consider suicide but do not kill themselves. Over 90% of people who attempt suicide go on to live out their lives.

Psychiatric Emergency Services

One in every eight visits to an emergency department in the U.S. involves a patient with psychiatric or substance abuse use issues. Many of these patients wait hours or even days for transfer to inpatient psychiatric facilities. For this reason, Nebraska Medicine opened a new adult Psychiatric Emergency Services unit in 2021.

Learn more about PES

Learn more about how 988 has been implemented in Nebraska