Suicide rates are lower than a record high in 2018, when more than 48,000 people committed suicide. According to the CDC, the number of deaths from suicide decreased from 2018 to 2020, but increased slightly in 2021.
The 988 hotline is intended to connect people in need of help to a crisis center near where they live. Some states have multiple centers to answer inquiries, while others, such as West Virginia, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, have only one center each.
Jennifer Battle, vice president of community access at Houston’s Harris Center, said the new hotline was a “game changer.”
State and federal investments in 988 hotlines have made a big difference in effectiveness, Battle said. The Harris Center was able to hire more counselors to handle far more calls from Texas. They answered her 5,000 calls last month, she said. This is her 400% increase from her old all-time record for 10-digit numbers.
The Harris Center has been accepting Lifeline calls since 2006, she said.
“It’s not just the number of people we serve,” Battle said. Doing what we do best and serving more people. “
She said she hopes 988 will help more people feel safe to seek help in suicide prevention and crisis situations.
Having a “three-digit easy-to-use” number is important for suicide prevention, she said.
Dr Palmieri said the hotline has been trying to reach communities with high suicide rates.