988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline sees major increase in call volume in first six months

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 10:44 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - It has been six months since the National Suicide Prevention line changed its hotline from 10 digits to three.

Since then, the number of calls and chats has significantly increased.

Local health experts said it’s a good thing people are beginning to feel comfortable talking about their mental health.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said it answered around 172,000 more contacts in Dec. 2022 compared to Dec. 2021.

“It is not very surprising to those of us in the mental health field,” Bruce Blair, Executive Director at Mental Health America of Augusta said. “I’ve heard anywhere from 30% to 45% to 50% increase, which is quite a bit.”

Blair said the increase may mean we are moving in the right direction.

“It’s great that people are willing to reach out to talk to trained individuals, and the majority of what they’re seeing is that there’s positive outcomes,” Blair said.

Although Blair sees it as a positive that more people are utilizing the lifeline, he said it shows there are areas that need to be improved.

“We need to do a lot of additional support, funding to local communities so that when crisis centers are being called that if they do need to dispatch somebody, they can dispatch trained mobile crisis units,” Blair said.

The data from the SAMHSA said the call and chat volumes have heavily increased from Dec 2021 to Dec 2022.

Blair believes part of the reason calls increased is due to the number change.

The data shows calls answered increased by 48%.

Chats answered increased by 263%.

Texts answered increased by 1445%.

″I think a lot of that is through their text and their chat features because you’re seeing a lot of the younger generation that that’s how they feel comfortable talking to people,” Blair said.

Blair said it’s important to remember everyone deals with their mental health differently, and it’s OK to not be OK.

He said whether it’s calling 988 or seeking local mental health resources, reaching out to someone is best.

For help, you can call or text 988 anytime.