In July 2022, the 11-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number became 988 – three digits to talk with a mental health professional during a mental health crisis. New call centers have opened across the country, including in Oklahoma, to meet increased demand. In addition, Oklahoma is one of several states that have also opted to use federal and state dollars to build new services for people whose crises are too severe to be handled over the phone.
The rollout of 988 in Oklahoma coincides with the launch of what state leaders call a comprehensive crisis response system, an array of services that include mobile crisis responders and in-person emergency centers with the goal of saving lives, connecting people to resources, limiting unnecessary interactions with law enforcement, and reducing the use of emergency medical services.
This primer breaks down the history of 988, the changes Oklahomans can expect, and considerations for local communities.