On January 28, 2021, PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $340,000 for strategic planning and infrastructure development in preparation for the launch of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 in July 2022. The 988 call number will eventually replace 1-800-273-TALK (8255) as the direct line for the Lifeline, easing access to life-saving crisis intervention services for people experiencing thoughts of suicide, their loved ones, and anyone helping someone in crisis.
Funding will be used by DHS’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University to support 13 crisis call centers in preparation for 988 implementation. This will include building capacity to support increased call volume, coordinating local behavioral health, suicide prevention, and crisis support infrastructure, and building awareness of the launch of 988 as the new way to reach the Lifeline.
Call centers receiving funding through this effort include:
Center for Community Resources, Butler, PA;
Keystone Health Crisis Intervention Program, Chambersburg, PA;
Safe Harbor Behavioral Health, Erie, PA;
Valley Creek Crisis Center, Exton, PA;
TrueNorth Wellness Services, Hanover, PA;
Lancaster County Crisis Intervention, Lancaster, PA;
Family Service Association of Bucks County, Langhorne, PA;
Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc., Norristown, PA;
The City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA;
Resolve Crisis Services, Pittsburgh, PA;
Centre Helps, State College, PA;
Resources for Human Development, New Perspectives Crisis Services, Stroudsburg, PA; and,
Chestnut Ridge Counseling Services, Uniontown, PA.
The grant was awarded through Vibrant Emotional Health, a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families achieve emotional wellbeing. Vibrant, the administrators of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, supports the Lifeline and other crisis resources through telephone, text, and web-based platforms. Vibrant is supporting states preparing for the 988 transition so the Lifeline can continue to be America’s mental health safety net by providing emotional support for people in distress, reducing suicides and mental health crises, and providing a pathway to well-being for all.
The task force released Pennsylvania’s Statewide Suicide Prevention PlanOpens In A New Window in September 2020. The plan is a four-year strategy to reduce suicide in Pennsylvania by fighting stigma, increasing training and education on suicide and mental health, improving data collection for suicide, and supporting clinical practices and treatment to prevent suicide and help those who are struggling or in crisis know that things can and will get better. The task force will prioritize cross-industry partnerships to fully implement the Lifeline’s new 988 number over the coming year and a half.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal ideation or have in past, know that help is always available at the following:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Spanish-language National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-888-628-9454
For the Mental Health Crisis Text Line: Text PA to 74174
Persevere PA Support and Referral Helpline: 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.
TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ individuals: 866-488-7386Trans Helpline: 877-565-8860
These free resources are available 24/7. If you are concerned about someone else’s well-being, these resources can help you be a life-saving assistance. No matter what you are going through, help is available.