Sep 13, 2023 - News

Louisiana 988 calls top 26K since hotline launch

Illustration of a rotary phone with a knot in the wire.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Louisianans have already made more than 26,000 calls to 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that launched last summer, and a new grant-funded campaign aims to ensure all Louisianans who need it are picking up the phone.

Why it matters: Louisiana saw 689 deaths by suicide in 2021, up from 642 in 2020, according to CDC data.

Driving the news: The beginning of the Department of Health campaign is timed to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week, which began Sunday.

Context: The lifeline launched nationally in July 2022 amid concerns that some states weren't yet prepared for the expected influx of calls.

  • In Louisiana, two centers are tapped to take the state's 988 calls. As of today, those centers have answered 87% of Louisiana calls, with the rest landing on out-of-state lines, according to Louisiana Department of Health data.
  • The calls average about 20 minutes in length.
  • Calls are confidential, and follow-ups or connections to additional resources only happen by the caller's choice.

Zoom in: State officials hope the new campaign will help clarify that the hotline is open to anyone experiencing mental health distress, whether from everyday difficulties like family challenges or a breakup, to more severe feelings of emotional crisis.

  • Paid media will also focus on the five parishes with the highest suicide rates: Evangeline, Avoyelles, St. Landry, Livingston and Calcasieu.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show Louisiana call centers answered 87% of calls to 988 in Louisiana, not 86%.


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