The 988 Lifeline

Emerging in 2022 as the official nationwide suicide prevention hotline, dialing 988 connects a caller to immediate mental health support and various resources. In addition to calling this number, you can text 988 or chat with a crisis counselor at With over 200 crisis response centers across the United States serving in this initiative, 988 will provide support in the event of a critical mental health crisis. Utilizing this lifeline provides free services to anyone, as you will be promptly connected to resources, guidance, and compassionate care.

Mental health support services like 988 aid in placing a greater value on mental health resources, and in turn will lead to a greater impact on suicide prevention; an epidemic that has substantially impacted the United States for years. According to the United States Federal Communications Commission, in 2020 alone the U.S. had one death by suicide about every 11 minutes.

Specific Crisis Aid for Veterans

988 is available for everyone, but it is important to note that Veterans and military service members have a specified option to select “1” after dialing 988. Veterans do not need to actively be enrolled in VA health care or receive VA benefits to access the Veterans Crisis Line. The caller will be connected to a responder who is trained in crisis intervention, specifically in military culture. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs indicated that, “Individuals who call the Veterans Crisis Line are five times more likely to have less distress and less suicidal ideation from the beginning to end of the call.” Whether you or a Veteran you know prefers a different line of support other than dialing on the phone, a chat is available at and by texting the number 838255.

Reimagining Mental Healthcare

As 988 gains recognition, the lifeline will serve as a facet of support to individuals, but background information on this resource is important for all of us as advocates. We can advocate for others in our lives and dial 988 on behalf of those who may find themselves in distressing situations, and the guided support from a counselor or trained professional can be lifesaving during an extremely critical time. Knowing the warning signs, available resources, and offering support are all important parts of being actively informed and aware of mental health issues.

Whether you or someone you know is experiencing life threatening distress, every second does count. The 988 lifeline aids in extending free mental health support and protecting human life across the United States. Having access to free support in various forms mitigates the stigma associated with conversations around mental health.

How ObservSMART improves mental healthcare in inpatient settings

The ObservSMART patient safety and compliance technology helps to improve mental healthcare every day in over 160 organizations across the United States. ObservSMART replaces outdated documentation methods, electronically validating that required patient and environmental safety checks are completed within the appropriate proximity and interval. In addition to ensuring patient, staff, and facility safety, ObservSMART reduces risk proactively, eliminating the opportunity for missed or falsified observations. Doing so drastically reduces the opportunity for sentinel events to occur, especially for those battling mental illness or psychiatric distress.

Schedule a brief demonstration of ObservSMART to learn how your facility can improve safety, validate compliance, and mitigate risk.