988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Adds American Sign Language Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Callers

September 8, 2023 | Washington, DC –  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s addition of nationwide American Sign Language (ASL) services for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, as part of ongoing efforts to expand accessibility to behavioral health care for underserved communities. Since the July 2022 launch, the 988 Lifeline has received more than 5.5 million calls, texts, and chats, following a nearly $1 billion investment by the Biden-Harris Administration, and will now be available to the millions of Americans who use ASL.

“This is another important step to improve accessibility to mental health support and resources,” said AAS President and Chief Executive Officer Leeann Sherman, MPS, CAE. “Adding American Sign Language services to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will ensure that more Americans can get the help they need while being inclusive to people living with disabilities.”

To connect directly to a trained 988 Lifeline counselor in ASL, callers who are Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Hard of Hearing, and Late-Deafened can click the “ASL Now” button on 988lifeline.org and follow the prompts. Direct dialing to 988 from a videophone will be available in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, ASL callers can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) from their videophone to reach ASL services.

“Individuals across America who use ASL as their primary language can now readily access the support they need during a mental health crisis,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “With the introduction of 988 ASL services, we are taking a significant stride forward in providing inclusive and accessible support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. This is a testament to our ongoing commitment to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to mental health support.”

More information about the ASL service is available online.

About American Association of Suicidology 

The American Association of Suicidology is the world’s largest and nation’s oldest membership-based suicide prevention organization. Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes the research of suicide and its prevention, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center professionals, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of laypersons who have an interest in suicide prevention. Learn more about AAS at www.suicidology.org

Responsible reporting on suicide, including stories of hope and resilience, can prevent more suicides and open the door for help for those in need. Visit the Media as Partners in Suicide Prevention: Suicide Reporting Recommendations for more details. For additional information, visit SuicideReportingToolkit.com and Stanford University’s Media and Mental Health Initiative. For crisis services anywhere in the world, please visit FindAHelpline.org and in the continental United States chat, text or call 988. 


Chris Cosentino 

American Association of Suicidology