The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched the 988 helpline on July 16 to create a more easy-to-remember line for anyone in the nation experiencing mental-health-related distress, such as thoughts of suicide, mental-health or substance-use crisis, or concern for a family member or friend in crisis.
The previous number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1  273-8255) will continue to remain available in addition to 988. Santa Barbara County also has its own 24/7 access line, at (888) 868-1649.
After calling 988, callers will be put through to trained crisis counselors at more than 200 crisis centers throughout the country. Counselors are available any time of day, and Lifeline’s national network of crisis centers has been in operation since 2005. There are no centers in Santa Barbara County; the closest are in Culver City, Bakersfield, and Fresno, California.
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Santa Barbara County’s access line, overseen by the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, has three to five counselors screening calls at any given time, according to Suzanne Grimmesey, chief of strategy and community engagement for Behavioral Wellness. The county access line works directly with a crisis team that can be sent out if a caller is in need of immediate mental-health services. In situations where someone could be in immediate danger, law enforcement and a clinician will be sent out to respond.