Understanding the Full Scope of the 9-8-8 Lifeline

Woman dials 24/7 lifeline for help

Understanding the Full Scope of the 9-8-8 Lifeline

By Sam Guthrie, Americorps Mental Health First Aid Training Fellow

The 9-8-8 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is often misunderstood; many people think it only serves those actively contemplating suicide or deep in crisis. However, this vital service supports any individuals grappling with mental health or life difficulties by providing a confidential, secure space for discussing their challenges and finding the support they need. Let’s dispel a common misconception about 9-8-8 and shed light on the many reasons why people reach out to this service, using insights from EveryMind’s Hotline Manager Dipika, and Hotline Director Ariel Gordon.

MYTH: The 9-8-8 Lifeline caters exclusively to individuals in the throes of suicidal thoughts or severe crises.

TRUTH: 9-8-8 is a beacon of hope for anyone feeling overwhelmed in countless situations, providing a safe spot to discuss their obstacles and find the help they require.

People reach out to the 9-8-8 hotline for various reasons, from struggling with the loss of a loved one to seeking advice on supporting a struggling friend. Below are some reasons given by some of the more than 6 million callers, texters, and chatters who have reached out to the lifeline since 2022:

• Feeling socially disconnected or lonely,

• Inability to contact therapists or friends,

• Need for an unbiased listener,

• Non-suicidal crisis situations,

• Coping with the loss of a family member, job, or relationship,

• Experiencing trauma,

• Sharing confidential matters that they are not ready to share with loved ones,

• Concern for a struggling friend or relative and seeking advice,

• Handling various stages of suicidal thoughts – from mild ideation to substantial crisis.

Ariel Gordon, EveryMind’s Hotline Director, shares, “Our 9-8-8 Counselors are always available. Every reason to reach out is valid: whether it’s a bad day, the worst day, or merely a moment when you need someone to listen, our counselors will answer.”

Those who work for the lifeline believe in hope and connection. The 9-8-8 service is not just a lifeline for those in extreme crisis; it is a haven of support for anyone struggling with mental health or life issues. By dispelling the view that the hotline is only for those in an immediate crisis, we can encourage more people to seek help for their mental health challenges. The more we educate about the many purposes and reasons to call 9-8-8, the more individuals can access the support they require.

At EveryMind, we constantly work on raising awareness about our services, including the 9-8-8 lifeline, to link more individuals to the resources they need. Remember, you are never alone—reach out to us on text, chat, or call 9-8-8 when you need support.