For all the convulsive court decisions, congressional hearings, price increases, invasions, mass killings and social media takeovers, 2022 should also be remembered as the year of 988 – the nationwide crisis line that went live in July. If the states and the federal government do their work, the number could become far more than just an easier-to-remember suicide prevention resource. It could be the foundation of a vastly improved mental health and emergency response system and an essential tool to defuse needless police violence.

Turnaround time was short, in government terms, between a 2019 proposal from the Federal Communications Commission and the system’s debut five months ago. It’s now possible to connect with a crisis center by calling 988 almost anywhere in the nation. But it’s mostly up to states to provide for crisis call centers, mobile psychiatric response teams and specialized care centers – or as system proponents put it, someone to call, someone to come and somewhere to go.