Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Selected as One of Five Centers Nationally to Respond to 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Texts and Chats in Spanish

U.S. Sec. Becerra announced the expansion of new Spanish text and chat options nationwide on the one-year anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

CULVER CITY, Calif., July 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Click here for b-roll of crisis counselors responding to 988 Spanish calls, texts and chats

Yesterday U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will now offer Spanish text and chat services nationally, with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services selected as one of five crisis centers to provide this option for help-seekers across the country. With the addition of these new services, individuals who speak Spanish can now access vital mental health assistance through 988 with 24/7 call, text and chat support.

Alejandra Vargas, a bilingual Spanish program coordinator and crisis counselor for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, joined Secretary Becerra in New York City for the announcement and shared stories of how Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has supported Spanish-speaking crisis line callers for many years, even before the launch of 988.

“The addition of Spanish text and chat services makes 988 more accessible and provides people with new options to connect with a counselor in a way that feels comfortable for them,” said Vargas. “We recognize the growing demand for culturally responsive services within the Hispanic community, and Didi Hirsch is committed to meeting these needs.”

This expansion of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to include Spanish text and chat comes just days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the easy-to-remember three-digit number, which launched on July 16, 2022.

Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that suicide continues to be a significant public health crisis across the country with rates of suicide for Hispanic people increasing a concerning 38 percent from 2013 to 2020.

“The addition of Spanish text and chat services supports 988’s mission to make mental health support available to everyone who needs it and in a way that is culturally competent,” said Shari Sinwelski, LPCC, Vice President of Crisis Care at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. “The transition to 988 as an easy-to-remember number for calls, texts and chats supports suicide prevention and helps individuals in crisis connect with critical lifesaving resources. 988 is providing individuals in crisis with a literal lifeline to connect quickly 24/7 with a compassionate counselor.”

988 callers connected with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services have been able to reach a bilingual Spanish crisis counselor for many years. The national 988 Spanish subnetwork has seen both an increase in calls along with improvement in response rates since the easy-to-remember three-digit dialing code was launched in July 2022. Almost 70,000 calls were routed to the Spanish calling subnetwork in 2022. 988 nationally also improved response rates for Spanish calls by 22 percent from July 2022 to June 2023.

Contacting 988 connects individuals directly with a highly trained, compassionate counselor who will listen to the individual in crisis, assess their safety, work with them to develop a plan to feel better and connect them with supportive resources. Counselors can also provide follow-up contacts with individuals in crisis to ensure they are improving and able to access the resources and support needed.

“We want everyone, including the Hispanic community, to know that there is hope and compassionate support available through the 988 Lifeline,” Vargas added. “You don’t have to be in a suicidal crisis to contact 988. Whether you’re experiencing distress, helping a loved one, concerned about drug or alcohol use or having thoughts about self-harm or other upsetting thoughts, you can call, text or chat the 988 Lifeline anytime.”

The 988 dialing code operates through what was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which was established in 2005. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a network of over 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers around the country.


About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has been a national leader in whole-person mental health, crisis care and substance use services for more than 80 years and is home to the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center. With deep roots in community-based mental health, Didi Hirsch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing health equity, including where discrimination and injustice limit access. More than 1,000 staff and volunteers compassionately serve 189,000 children, adults and families annually in crisis, telehealth, outpatient, residential, community and school-based settings. The 988 Lifeline now offers Spanish text and chat. Through the addition of these new services, Spanish-speaking individuals can now access vital mental health assistance and bilingual crisis counselors through 988 with 24/7 call, text and chat support. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.


Contact Data