The call service, which was launched in July, was restored shortly before midnight on Thursday. People experiencing a mental health crisis were still able to reach a mental health counselor by texting 988 or by visiting 988lifeline.org to start a chat.
The federal government is investigating the hotline's outage, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim said in a tweet late Thursday night.
“While HHS and VA immediately acted to provide support to 988 callers via text, chat, and alternate numbers, the disruption of phone service was unacceptable, and HHS continues to investigate the root cause of the outage,” she tweeted, referencing the acronym for Veterans Affairs.
The telecommunications company Intrado, based in Omaha, Nebraska, provides the emergency response service. It did not return repeated requests for comment.
In a statement on Intrado's website on Thursday, the company said it was “working as quickly as possible to resume full service.” The outage also impacted the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline.
The 988 hotline is a national helpline staffed with mental health counselors around the country that’s designed to be as easy to remember as the emergency line, 911. Since it's launch, the hotline has fielded roughly 8,000 phone calls a day from those seeking mental health help.
The outage also affected the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline.