988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

If you or a loved one are ever in a suicidal, mental health or substance abuse crisis, just dial or text 988 on your phone. It can be lifesaving.

988 is available in most states, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Crisis calls in Kentucky increased 22 percent between 2022, when Kentucky launched its 988 lifeline, and 2023, according to the Kentucky Lantern.

According to Kentucky’s 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline website, Kentucky currently has 13 call centers participating in 988. These call centers have trained, compassionate counselors who are available to talk with people in crisis. You can use 988 on behalf of yourself or a loved one.

If you call 988, you will first hear a message greeting you. During this time, your call will be routed to the lifeline crisis network center closest to your area code. Once the call is routed, a trained counselor will answer and listen to you describe the crisis.

The counselor will be able to understand how the crisis is affecting you and provide help. 988 lifeline counselors can connect people in crisis with additional services, first responders or mobile crisis response teams if needed. Most of the time, calls can be resolved without involving other resources.

If your local crisis call center cannot take the call due to call volume or any other reason, your call will be routed to a national crisis center immediately, so you will still be able to get help.

People in crisis can text the 988 lifeline if they don’t want to call. Anyone in crisis can call or text 988 at any time, since the lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 988 is free to use, but when texting, standard data rates from your mobile carrier may apply.

If you would rather not text or call, 988 is available via a free 24/7/365 online chat as well. You will need to answer a pre-chat survey before chatting with an appropriate counselor. If a crisis counselor cannot connect right away, you will see a message saying how long the wait is, and you can also access resources on the website in the meantime.

The 988 lifeline provides live services in Spanish as well. 988 also uses Language Line Solutions as needed to translate in more than 250 other languages.

If you were already familiar with the 800-273-8255 crisis number, that number is still in operation. You can dial that number or 988 to receive crisis services. 988 was implemented partly because it is an easier number for people to remember.

In addition to 988, remember that UofL Health – Peace Hospital is available to those experiencing a behavioral health and/or substance use crisis. The assessment and referral center at Peace Hospital is open for walk-ins 24/7. For more information, please dial 502-451-3333.

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Lisa Prewitt

Lisa Prewitt, M.Ed., is the director of behavioral health outreach at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and personnel services from the University of Louisville. Lisa has more than 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. She is also a licensed professional counseling associate and a certified Grief Recovery Method® specialist. Lisa has been with Peace Hospital since 2012.

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