Jul 22, 2022 - Health

National suicide hotline sees spike in calls with introduction of 988 number

Sue-Ann Siegel monitors the Montgomery County Hotline from her home office fielding calls including from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The national suicide hotline saw a 45% increase in calls in the first week after the introduction of its new 988 number, according to Vibrant Emotional Health.

The big picture: The memorable three-digit number debuted on July 16, with the expectation that there would be an increase in calls and texts to the hotline.

  • However, there have been concerns that this increase could strain the capacity of crisis centers that are already struggling to keep up with calls. One in six calls to the hotline — about 1.5 million — ended before ever reaching a counselor.

Driving the news: The national suicide hotline received 96,000 calls, texts and chats between July 14 and July 20, 30,000 more than the week prior, according to Vibrant Emotional Health.

  • Vibrant Emotional Health, which runs the hotline, calls this period transition week.
  • There was an even larger jump when comparing the numbers to those from last year, with a 66% increase in call volume from the same week in 2021.

What they're saying: "We are grateful that transitioning to 988 brought awareness of this resource, and more people sought support through the 988 Lifeline, and help was available," Vibrant said in the press release.

  • "Vibrant will continue to collaborate with (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and (Health and Human Services) to ensure the 988 Lifeline provides the best life-saving support possible," they added.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 — or you can text message or call 988.

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