By Alejandro Ramos
The new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched nationwide last week. It’s a newer, sleeker version of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It has a shortened number - just 988 - and added services like text and online chat. The goal is to make it easier for folks to reach crisis support by making the lifeline more accessible and recognizable.
While this update rolled out across the country, support comes locally. If you call from a 510 or 314 number, your call will be directed to Crisis Support Services of Alameda County (CSS). From there, you’ll be connected to a trained crisis support counselor who will listen and help you find the support you need.
It is important to note the criticism of the 988 updates. Critics have pointed out that calling 988 can lead to a non-consensual active rescue, which can involve police and other first responders. This is a cause for concern among peers because it goes against the values of self-determination and empowerment. Sarah Marxer, PEERS’ Evaluation & Policy Specialist, shared this statement on the matter:
“The original vision of many in our community who helped advocate for the creation of 988 was that it would be an alternative to 911 even in the most urgent crises. But the infrastructure for an alternative response just hasn't been built fully yet. Still, there's no more risk of involuntary interventions using 988 than using the older 10-digit hotline numbers. According to Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, which has been operating our local crisis line for more than 55 years, only two percent of calls result in the crisis line contacting 911. There's lots of advocacy work still to be done so that we have peer-led, community-driven crisis services that don't involve law enforcement.”
Additionally, CSS will not record your call, be able to trace your location, or ask for any personal information to provide services, as stated on the 988 Alameda County website.
For more information about current mobile crisis teams in Alameda County, see https://www.acbhcs.org/acute-integrated-health-care/acute-crisis-services/.
Alejandro is the Media & Communications Coordinator at PEERS.