The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is getting a major overhaul; on July 16, 2022, dialing 9-8-8 from any phone line will connect you, or someone you love, to a crisis call center staffed by trained crisis counselors who are prepared to help you navigate any mental health concern. Implementation of 9-8-8 will mean that people who are in crisis or experiencing mental health distress are one, easy to remember, phone call away from receiving the help they need.

Until 988 is online, call 1-800-273-8255 if you are in crisis or visit our Get Help page in the navigation menu above.


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Common 988 Questions

What is 988 and how will it work?

9-8-8 phone calls are routed by the caller’s area-code to a near-by, local crisis call center. The people of Kansas are served by three, 9-8-8 crisis call centers which are COMCARE of Sedgwick County, Johnson County Mental Health Center, and Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ. All 9-8-8 crisis call centers strive to provide quality services aligned to best-practice, clinical recommendations approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Crisis call centers also undergo an accreditation process, which evaluates the quality of their training programs and service delivery.

When should I call 988?

Anyone in need of mental health or crisis support  for themselves or someone else should call 9-8-8 starting July 16, 2022. Until that time help can be found at 1-800-273-8255. When a person calls or texts 988, they can expect a local counselor to immediately begin providing crisis counseling. Current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call data shows that the majority of callers (over 80%) are able to receive the help they need over the phone; thereby reducing the need for an in-person crisis response. 

Mental health emergencies are different from police, fire, or other medical emergencies. That’s why the response from 988 crisis counselors is different than the response from 9-1-1. 9-8-8 is designed to serve the person right where they are, without the need for an in-person response. And when in-person support is needed , then those types of interventions are made available in as timely a manner as possible. Hotlines are effective and save lives. 

Even after July 16,2022, anyone experiencing a life threatening emergency such as a house fire or home invasion should call 9-1-1 for assistance. Collaboration is on-going among the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), the 9-8-8 Planning team, and representatives from 9-1-1 to roll out 9-8-8 and ensure widespread, safe services for all Kansans.

How can 988 help me?

9-8-8 is available to help a person in a mental health crisis. The phone is answered by  highly trained, crisis counselors who are prepared to deliver supportive counseling to people experiencing a variety of concerns. Counselors set out to meet the unique needs of each individual contact because of the belief that a crisis is defined by the person experiencing it. Compassionate emotional support, thorough risk assessment, collaborative safety planning, resource navigation, and referrals to local providers and human service agencies are key to providing quality support. 

9-8-8 is available to support those who are concerned about a loved one. The experience of a mental health or suicide crisis can be confusing, scary and difficult for all of those involved. Highly trained crisis counselors are available to provide support and guidance to navigate resources in the community and communicate with loved ones who are at risk. 

9-8-8 reduces the need for law enforcement to respond to mental health crises. Over 90% of phone calls can be resolved without the need to activate a law enforcement response. In the majority of cases, when law enforcement is involved it is with the expressed permission of the caller.

9-8-8 helps reduce the need for Emergency Department visits. Calling 9-8-8 helps connect people with help without a visit to the emergency department. Far too many Kansans have had to spend hours, sometimes days, waiting in hospitals for appropriate help to be identified. Since 9-8-8 counselors are properly trained to de-escalate crises and connect people to on-going services many people can avoid an expensive trip to the emergency department.

What can I do to support 988’s success?

9-8-8 crisis call centers need your help to ensure long-term, sustainable funding sources are identified to make these services available across the state of Kansas. At this time, crisis phone services are not reimbursable through health insurance and other means used to pay for healthcare costs. KSPHQ believes that mental health care is healthcare. That means another funding source is needed. A telephone line service fee has been identified as a logical option as this is the current mechanism used to fund 9-1-1 services, the other well known emergency number. 

HB2281 is currently being considered by the Kansas Legislature as the mechanism to establish a protected suicide prevention trust fund which would be utilized to fund 9-8-8 crisis call centers and other crisis mental health services. The bill will add a monthly fee to each phone line (cellular or landline) each month, and would be collected with the subscriber’s regular phone bill. For decades, suicide prevention efforts in Kansas have not been systematically funded. This bill presents Kansas with the opportunity to catch up and put the necessary capital into creating and sustaining the crisis care system.

Can I call 988 now?

Yes! 988 was officially activated on July 16th, 2022. Dialing 988 from any phone carrier will connect you with counselors who are trained to navigate any crisis.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s former number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is still active as well.

KSPHQ needs your help raising awareness about this critical need!
  • Click here to find your legislator so you can tell them how you feel about the 9-8-8. Ask them about their plan to fund 9-8-8 and for their support for HB 2281
  • Click here to see an example email to send to your legislator
  • Talk with your family and friends about 9-8-8 to spread awareness about this exciting resource
  • Download our social media toolkit to share infographics with your circles
  • Sign up with NAMI Kansas and the Greater Kansas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to receive legislative advocacy training for talking about 9-8-8 and other important mental health related policies

More information is available through these resources:

FCC Fact Sheet, Implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2018

Report on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2018

FCC unanimously approves 988 requiring all phone carriers to update by July 16, 2022.

National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (988) signed into law, October 19, 202

HB 2281 LIVES Act under consideration in the Kansas Legislature, February 17, 2021