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Samaritans on Cape Cod & Islands Launch New 3-Digit Crisis Support Number: 988

Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands recently launched 988, the 3-digit number adopted by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If you haven’t heard about 988, here’s a quick overview.

What is 988?
• Federal law, passed in November 2020 creating 988 as the dedicated 3-digit number for callers looking for mental health or suicidal crisis support.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) (1-800-273-8255)= 988.
• Only centers who are members of the NSPL network will answer 988 calls
• Calls are distributed to the closest local center based on the caller’s area code.
• This number went live nationally on July 16, 2022.

Why 988?
• Improves access to crisis services.
• Meets the country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs.
• Provides easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from 911 (where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police as needed).
• Provides an easier-to-remember way to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers.

What is the Purpose of 988?
• Connects a person in a mental health crisis to a trained counselor who can address their immediate needs and help connect them to ongoing care.
• Reduces the incidence of interventions such as
• Unnecessary deployment of law enforcement and emergency medical responses,
• Unnecessary utilization of emergency departments and in-patient psychiatric units.

Growth Ahead for Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands

Current and expected growth for Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands:

• Expanded crisis line hours of operation to 24/7/365 for the first time in over 5 years.
• Increased crisis line staffing to accommodate the expanding number of inbound calls from those in need of support.
• Engaged IT support sufficient to upgrade and integrate the systems used to answer and document incoming crisis calls.
• Arranged additional administrative and HR support to manage employee payroll, benefits, and onboarding; and
• Developed more robust and frequent trainings for crisis line staff and volunteers to maintain the skills necessary to respond to incoming calls.