National 988 mental health hotline back up after daylong outage
The text option for 988 and the chat feature on 988lifeline.org remained functional as work was done to restore the phone service
UPDATE: (10:12 a.m. Dec. 2 CST)
By Amanda Seitz
WASHINGTON — The nation’s 988 hotline, intended to help anyone experiencing a mental health emergency, was back up and running Friday after a daylong outage.
The call service, which was launched in July, was restored shortly before midnight on Thursday. People experiencing a mental health crisis were still able to reach a mental health counselor by texting 988 or by visiting 988lifeline.org to start a chat.
The federal government is investigating the hotline’s outage, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim said in a tweet late Thursday night.
“While HHS and VA immediately acted to provide support to 988 callers via text, chat, and alternate numbers, the disruption of phone service was unacceptable, and HHS continues to investigate the root cause of the outage,” she tweeted, referencing the acronym for Veterans Affairs.
The telecommunications company Intrado, based in Omaha, Nebraska, provides the emergency response service. It did not return repeated requests for comment.
In a statement on Intrado’s website on Thursday, the company said it was “working as quickly as possible to resume full service.” The outage also impacted the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline.
The 988 hotline is a national helpline staffed with mental health counselors around the country that’s designed to be as easy to remember as the emergency line, 911. Since its launch, the hotline has fielded roughly 8,000 phone calls a day from those seeking mental health help.
What to know about 988
988 is designed to make it easier for callers to get services offered via the traditional 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The nation’s new 988 hotline, intended to help anyone experiencing a mental health emergency, has been out of service for several hours Thursday.
Those trying to reach the line for help with suicide, depression or other mental health crises are greeted with a message that says the line is “experiencing a service outage.”
People can still reach a mental health counselor through the lifeline by texting “988" or opening a chat at 988lifeline.org.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw the launch of the three-digit lifeline earlier this year, is in communication with the contractor that supports the line, HHS spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim said in a tweet Thursday.
“We’ve taken immediate action to ensure alternative 988 channels are available to the public,” Lovenheim tweeted. The outage had been ongoing for several hours Thursday, she said.
Veterans who are looking to reach the helpline can call the Veterans Crisis Line directly at 877-267-6030.
The outage is also affecting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline.
The 988 helpline, launched in July, is a national helpline staffed with mental health counselors around the country that’s designed to be as easy to remember as the emergency line, 911.
Intrado, the telecommunications provider for the service, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a statement on its website, the company said it is “experiencing an incident that is impacting production across numerous systems” and is “working diligently to restore service.”