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988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Virginia Department of Health  announced the successful transition of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to the three digit 988 number. 

988 is more than just an easy-to-remember number—it’s a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress. Similar to dialing 911 in emergencies, anyone who needs mental health support can dial 988, whether they are experiencing 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.

988 is an incredibly important advancement by getting people quick access to mental health support. But a hotline is only part of improving crisis services for Virginians. We are building a range of crisis services to help more people with mental illness avoid homelessness, hospitalization, or incarceration and will connect them to the best community service to meet their needs

Nelson Smith

Commissioner , DBHDS

You’ve Got Questions…

What does this mean for me?

It’s important to note that 988 does not replace existing resources in our community. Our emergency services line will still operate around the clock. Our staff will not be at the center to answer 988 calls, but we do partner with the center to make sure that individuals in crisis can receive the right services. 

What happens when I call 988?

Calls to 988 will be sent to a regional call center run by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained paraprofessional volunteers and crisis line workers will answer the calls and texts and will offer a caring ear, referrals to community mental health services, and discuss safety planning for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts. You can also call 988 if you are concerned about someone’s emotional health and recieve ideas on how to help. 

What if I don’t have a local area code?

988 links calls to the center based on their area code. If you do not have a local area code, please call our regional crisis call center number 434-230-9704. 

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