September is Suicide Prevention Month

Marylanders can connect to a local behavioral health crisis call specialist through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Contacting 988 connects people directly to the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which encompasses all behavioral crisis services, to include all mental health and substance use (problems with drug and alcohol use).

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline replaces the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline AND expands services to cover all behavioral health crisis services.

When someone in Maryland contacts 988, they are routed to one of the state’s call centers. These centers provide phone-based support and information regarding local resources.

Maryland has been operating its own crisis hotline, 211 press 1, and that number will remain in operation and accessible to Marylanders throughout the transition period and beyond.

Who can call 988?

Anyone in need of assistance with mental health or substance use-related needs can contact 988.

The Lifeline provides live crisis center phone services in English and Spanish and uses Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 150 additional languages for people who call 988. Here are all of the ways to connect:

Call 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line press 2 for Spanish
press 3 for LGBTQ+ support

Text 988 (English and Spanish) Chat online: 988Lifeline.org Learn more: 988.maryland.gov What can you expect when calling 988?

Callers will hear a greeting message while their call is routed to the Maryland Lifeline network crisis center (based on the caller’s area code)

A trained call specialist will answer the phone, listen to the caller, understand how their problem is affecting them, provide support, and share resources if needed.

If the Maryland crisis center is unable to take the call, the caller will be automatically routed to a national backup crisis center.

What happens when you text 988?

When someone texts 988, they are responded to by a group of Lifeline crisis centers that answer both chats and texts. This service will expand over the next few years to increase local and state level response.

Once you are connected, a crisis counselor listens to you, works to understand how your problem is affecting you, provides support, and shares resources that may be helpful.

Currently, texting is available in English and Spanish only.

Chat is available (in English and Spanish) through the Lifeline’s website: 988lifeline.org/chat.

People seeking chat services are provided a pre-chat survey before connecting with a counselor, who identifies the main area of concern.

If there is a wait to chat with a crisis counselor, a wait-time message will appear. If demand is high, people can access the Lifeline’s “helpful resources” while waiting.

Once you are connected, a crisis counselor listens to you, works to understand how your problem is affecting you, provides support, and shares resources that may be helpful.

988 call specialists located at crisis call centers around Maryland can immediately provide phone-based support and connections to local resources.

By directing cases to 988 when a behavioral health crisis (mental health and substance use) isn’t life threatening, the response provided by public services, such as law enforcement and EMS, can be reserved for situations in which lives are endangered.

Signs to watch for

Signs that a loved one may need intervention include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.