988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline adds American Sign Language support

The Department of Health and Human Services has added American Sign Language services to its 988 suicide prevention Lifeline. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said the new option would "ensure that no one is left behind." File Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has added American Sign Language services for people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing, the Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

"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," HHS said in a press release.

"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," HHS said.

In June, the National Suicide Crisis Lifeline added LGBTQ specialized services to its menu options and in July the Lifeline added Spanish language text and chat services.

"With the introduction of 988 ASL services, we are taking a significant step forward in providing inclusive and accessible support for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

"This is a testament to our ongoing commitment to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to mental health support."

In July, HHS, which operates the lifeline, said the number of answered chats increased by 141% over the previous year, that the number of contacts had increased by 1,135% and that the number of answered calls had increased by 46%.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, call the national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.