988 & Your Privacy
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. As part of this network, Seven Counties Services operates a local 988 team with trained crisis intervention counselors available to the community.
This team is managed by Geneva Robinson M.S., the Director of our Crisis and Information Center, and co-chair of our agency’s Zero Suicide Initiative. Here, she answers a few questions to share more about how the 988 Lifeline protects the privacy of its callers and what to expect.
Is there any cost associated with using 988?
All services individuals receive on the 988 Lifeline are free. There is no charge for any of our services. We want everyone to know that regardless of whether they have insurance or the ability to pay, we’re there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide the services they need in the moment they need it most.
What information do callers have to disclose when they call 988?
What’s wonderful about 988 is when someone calls us, they don’t have to disclose any information they don’t choose to. Our line is anonymous, and we’re not going to ask anyone their name or any kind of identifying information.
How is the privacy of individuals protected when they call 988?
When someone calls 988, anything they choose to tell us on that line is being told to a professional crisis counselor. We honor confidentiality so all information they provide to us is safe and we don’t share it with anyone. We’re just there to listen, let them tell their story, and give them a safe place to be able to talk.
If someone calls and is in immediate danger, will 988 intervene?
Part of the process for when someone calls in is doing a full assessment. We do this because sometimes when individuals contact 988, they do so at a point in time where they are actively suicidal. For those who call us and maybe are at a higher level of risk and we’re very concerned about the individual’s ability to stay safe, we have alternatives we work with. We have a Deflection Program, which is an alternative response to the Louisville Police program. The Deflection Program currently operates from 10 AM until 10 PM daily, where trained crisis counselors can actually come and provide supportive services in-person, for free if the caller is willing to do that with us.
For callers to the 988 line who are assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide and/or homicide, our crisis intervention counselors work collaboratively with callers to try to have them accept emergency intervention voluntarily to remain safe and alive. For callers at this significant risk, we work with EMS and police to get emergency intervention to the caller.
These procedures are in place so we can make sure we get support to all individuals at all hours of the day and help them make sure they stay alive.
What is the value of calling 988? How can counselors help?
Our trained crisis intervention counselors are there mostly to listen. We want people to know they don’t have to be at the point of considering suicide or self-harm, in fact, we hope they call sooner. Because what our counselors can help them understand and know is they really aren’t alone. And these counselors are trained to provide support in a non-judgmental, accepting environment for anyone to talk about what is weighing so heavily on them. Our counselors are there to help not only in that moment, but to be able to provide resources and referrals to make sure they will be able to stay safe, get the help they need, and begin to feel much better.
You are not alone! Trained counselors are available and there for you even if you just need someone to talk to during a difficult time. If you or someone you know is struggling and are in need of help, please call 988. For more information about 988, visit 988lifeline.org today.
Reviewed by Geneva Robinson M.S., the Director of the Crisis and Information Center for Seven Counties Services.