988 in Colorado

About 988 in Colorado

As of July 16, 2022, Colorado, along with the rest of the United States, is using the 988 dialing code. 

988 is the new, easy-to-remember three-digit number for calls (multiple languages), text, or chat (English only) that connects people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline), where compassionate, accessible care and support is available for anyone experiencing mental health–related distress. The chat feature will be available through the Lifeline’s website.

988 calls are routed to Lifeline call centers across the country based on a person’s area code from the phone they are calling from. Colorado is actively engaged with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and partners across the country to determine the appropriate solutions for call routing.

This situation is not unique to Colorado. The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) recognizes that many people in Colorado do not have a phone number with a Colorado area code. We want to ensure a safe, immediate connection to local resources and support. While Colorado works to ensure all calls, regardless of area code, get routed to a call center physically near the caller, we will continue to promote our statewide crisis line at 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255. 

Stay informed

We will keep everyone updated on the latest news about 988 through the monthly Behavioral Health Administration newsletter. Sign up to begin receiving the newsletter.

Frequently asked questions

What is 988?
  • 988 is the new, easy-to-remember three-digit number for calls (multiple languages), text, or chat (English only) that connects people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline), where compassionate, accessible care and support is available for anyone experiencing mental health–related distress. The chat feature will be available through the Lifeline’s website.
     
  • As of July 16, 2022, Colorado, along with the rest of the United States, is using the 988 dialing code. 
What kind of training do 988 call takers have?
  • Depending on the reason for the call, 988 callers can either be connected with a clinician or a peer specialist. Crisis Specialists are trained mental health professionals, and peer specialists are individuals who have gone through experiences similar to caller and are now trained to provide support and guidance to others on a variety of topics.
  • Crisis Specialists undergo training provided by Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners upon hire. It takes three full time weeks of training, followed by a shadow week and a testing out period for an individual to become a trained Crisis Specialist. This training process is required regardless of prior education level.
  • Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners is currently hiring remote and in-person call center specialist positions for 988. 
What is the difference between 988 and Colorado Crisis Services?

988 is a new national 3-digit resource/hotline for suicide prevention services. Local to our state, Colorado Crisis Services (CCS) provides a network of crisis walk-in centers, crisis stabilization units, crisis respite services, and mobile crisis services here at home. CCS is administered by the Behavioral Health Administration and currently has 24-hour/7-days a week primary coverage in all counties for all calls to the Lifeline.

All calls made to 988 from a phone with a Colorado area code will be received by the same vendor which manages Colorado Crisis Services. Of important note, if you have a non-Colorado area code, your call will get routed to a crisis call center in the geographic location corresponding to your non-Colorado area code.

How will 988 and 911 interact?
  • The 988 and 911 systems will work closely to refer callers for appropriate care or response that addresses the unique circumstances present with each crisis encounter. Colorado is currently developing a framework for 988 and 911 system integration. 
  • Rocky Mountain Crisis Services answer nearly 400,000 calls a year, less than 2% of those calls result in contacting law enforcement. If we do contact law enforcement, the caller is involved in the conversation.
  • 988 calls can not be traced, all information provided is given voluntarily by the caller.
How is this different from 911?
  • 988 was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 provides easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911 (where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police as needed).
Is 988 open to everyone?

Yes! We must seek to optimize and support services that ensure access and inclusion within 988 to meet the unique needs of at-risk groups, including youth, rural populations, BIPOC communities, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

We encourage stakeholders, crisis centers, telecommunications agencies, mental health providers, and people with lived experience to work together to help build this public health safety net for all.

What is the Lifeline?

The Lifeline is a national network of over 180 local, independent, and state-funded crisis centers equipped to help people in emotional distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis.

Is the 1-800-273-8255 Lifeline number going away?

No. Moving to 988 does not mean the 800 number goes away. Dialing either number will get people to the same services, no matter which number they use. In the end, 988 is an easier-to-remember way for all Americans to access a strengthened and expanded network of crisis call centers.

Is 988 available for substance use crisis?

988 accepts calls, texts, and chats from anyone who needs support for a suicidal, mental health and/or substance use crisis.

What is the BHA’s role in 988?
  • The BHA is supporting the logistics and implementation of 988 services in Colorado, including administration of the Colorado 988 Enterprise Board. The 988 Enterprise Board was created in 2021 with the passage of legislation to impose a 988 surcharge on telephone service users to help fund the Lifeline call center.
  • The BHA is also tasked with measuring and monitoring staffing levels, answer rates, and other capacity-related activities.
What is the BHA’s long term goal for 988?
  • The BHA’s vision is to build a robust crisis care response system across the state that links callers to community-based providers who can deliver a full range of crisis care services, if needed (like mobile crisis teams or stabilization centers.

988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise Board of Directors

Senate Bill 21-154 established the 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise in the Department to impose a 988 surcharge and a prepaid wireless 988 charge; fund the 988 crisis hotline; work with third parties to provide crisis outreach, stabilization, and acute care; authorize and issue revenue bonds payable from the newly created 988 Crisis Hotline Cash Fund; and adopt, amend, or repeal policies to regulate its affairs.

The enterprise is governed by a board of directors appointed by the Governor. Learn more about the 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise Board of Directors. Expand the section below for a list of directors.

Membership
Name Expiration
Omar-Fara Norgaisse September 13, 2023
Lynn Notarianni September 13, 2023
Christopher Delorey September 13, 2023
Moe Keller September 13, 2025
Tamara Pogue September 13, 2025
Adrienne Leonard September 13, 2025

988 Implementation Planning Committee archives

Expand the sections below for archives of the Colorado 988 Implementation Planning Committee's meetings and work.

Meetings
Group Date/Time Link/Phone Number to Join the Meeting
Full Committee
Funding & Sustainability

Promotion, Awareness and Education, and Accessibility
Call Center and System Capacity and Integration
Public Listening Sessions
Committee Members
Kelly Bowman Health Colorado, Inc.
Daryl Branson Public Utilities Commission
Sarah Brummet Office of Suicide Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Judy Campbell Professional with Lived Experience
Krista Cavataio Rocky Mountain Health Plans
Jennifer Conrad Signal Behavioral Health Network
Lila Cummings Colorado Hospital Association
Andrew Dameron Denver 911
Melissa Eddleman Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing
Kate Fitch Public Health Professional with Lived Experience
Doyle Forrestal Colorado Behavioral Health Council
Christine Harms Schools Safety Resource Center
Hope Hyatt Colorado Mental Wellness Network
Moe Keller Mental Health Colorado
Abe Laydon Commissioner, Douglas County
Elizabeth Richards Beacon Health Options
Cheri Skelding Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners
Scott Snow Denver Police Department
Mandy Stollsteimer WestCO PSAP
Ana Vizoso Servicios de La Raza
Anthony Young Association of Black Psychologists
Work Groups

Promotion, Awareness and Education, and Accessibility
Consistency in public messaging is critical at the national and state/territory level regarding 988, its distinction from 911 and the range of services 988 provides. Colorado must lay out a framework for how 988 will be marketed within the state. Colorado should ensure messaging is consistent with national / federal messaging about the range of services 988 is intended to provide. Marketing should convey messages of help, hope and healing; should promote the voices of persons with lived experiences with mental illness and suicide, and should include specific strategies for reaching LGBTQ youth and other populations considered high risk for suicide. All messaging should adhere to all standards for Safe and Effective suicide prevention communication.

Funding & Sustainability

Colorado must provide strategies for identifying and supporting funding streams which boost the financial stability of the call center(s) answering Lifeline calls. Colorado will decide how to actualize a strategy to sustainably fund the Lifeline member call center(s) answering 988 calls, texts and chats and follow-up services. Funding strategies may be diversified including, but not limited to:

  • The potential to raise 988 related fees from telecommunication users (similar to how many states fund 911 calls) 
  • Medicaid reimbursements 
  • Mental health block grant funds
  • Direct engagement with state legislative budget committees for 988 specific funding, 
  • Partnerships with stakeholder groups who may have the ability to contribute to 988 resources (e.g. United Way/211, private insurers, hospitals, philanthropic organizations)
Call Center and System Capacity and Integration Capacity building at the center answering 988 contacts must occur based on call, chat, text and follow-up volume growth projections. However, current call volume and capacity challenges must be addressed before 988 is nationally implemented on July 16, 2022. In partnership with the Lifeline, Colorado shall ensure that the Lifeline member center has the systems in place to maintain local resource and referral listings, as well as assure linkages to local community crisis services (including 911 PSAPs, mobile crisis teams and other outreach alternatives to law enforcement/EMS response).

 

Resources

Text - S.2661 National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020

FCC Designates 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (July 16, 2020)

Press Release: Colorado begins planning for 988 suicide prevention number (March 17, 2021)

988 Geolocation Report — National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020. Wireline Competition Bureau. (April 15, 2021)

CO Senate Bill 21-154 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network (June 2021)

Press Release: CDHS Statement on 988 (October 22. 2021) Concerning new 10-digit dialing requirement for Colorado.

Colorado's 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise Board of Directors

FCC Approves Text-to-988 Access to Suicide Prevention Lifeline (November 18, 2021)

SAMHSA 988 website and fact sheet (December 2021)

Contact

Kelly Bowman
988 Enterprise Program Manager
Behavioral Health Administration
kelly.bowman@state.co.us