There can be a lot of misunderstanding around what actually happens when you call a mental health crisis line. Some people might be intimidated or afraid to call for fear that the call isn’t actually confidential or that it will immediately result in a call to the police—but this is far from the truth.
So, what’s the reality?
After you dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988 or 1-800-273-8255)…
- You’ll hear an automated greeting with additional information and options. A person does not come on the line immediately.
- Your call will often be routed to your local crisis center. Wait times are usually less than one minute, but they can be longer depending on availability.
- A trained, caring, local crisis counselor will answer your call.
- You can start the conversation however you want—and it can last as long or short as you’d like.
- If you’re calling about a friend or family member you’re concerned about, the counselor will walk you through how to help and offer resources.
- In higher-risk situations, such as having suicidal thoughts or actively considering suicide, crisis workers will do everything they can to work with the caller to come up with a safety plan without an intervention.
- In rare cases, the crisis worker might need to alert the local police to ensure the caller’s safety—but less than 3% of calls require intervention.
On the other end of a crisis line call are real, caring people ready to help you work through whatever support you need, 24/7, whether you’re in crisis or just need someone to talk to. They will listen to you, provide support and help you find or access local resources – and with the launch of 988, quick access to mental health support is made even easier.
Please don’t be afraid to reach out if you need support. There are #ZeroReasonsWhy you should have to struggle alone.