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DHHR Continues Plans to Transition to 988 for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Behavioral Health (BBH) continues to prepare for the transition of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a new three-digit number (988) on July 16, 2022.  

BBH funds West Virginia’s single National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center, operated by First Choice Services, to answer in-state calls to the Lifeline, which includes the Veterans Crisis Line.  On July 16, 2022, the three-digit dialing code for the Lifeline will go live as 988, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-8255, which will remain operational during the transition.

West Virginia is one of the top five states for its National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center answer rates, answering at least 90% of calls within West Virginia. First Choice Services also serves as a back-up center for other states when they cannot answer their own chats and/or texts. 

“West Virginia has been working with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to plan for 988 implementation,” said Christina Mullins, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health. “Over the past few months, the focus has moved to onboarding and training staff to be ready to answer increased voice calls and adding chat and text options.”

Funding for the transition was awarded by SAMHSA. Read more about 988 planning at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/988