CNN Health October 31, 2023

“Millions have used the 988 mental health crisis line, but most say they wouldn’t turn to it again.”

“[O]verall, only a quarter of people said they would be very likely to turn to 988 in the future is they or a loved one were experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidality – and less than a third of people with severe psychological distress who had already tried the lifeline were very likely to use it again.”

“The 988 lifeline launched in July 2022, transitioning from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to a broader focus and a simpler dial tone.  Since then, 988 has received about 6.5 million calls, texts, and chats including more than 500,000 in September alone, according to data published by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”

“’Success for the 988 lifeline would involve active management of acute crisis and help connecting people to broader mental health resources, [Jonathan Purtle, an associate professor at the New York University School of Global Public Health] said.’

“’It’s active supportive listening, assessment and it’s a door to care.  It’s a way into a system,’ he said.  ‘In an ideal world, success looks like getting all that on the call, but also getting follow-up care in a good supportive system once off the phone or done texting.’”

“But getting it right on the lifeline – and after – will require better training of mental health professionals, the study authors said.

“’Pre-988, the lifeline existed but marketed as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for a much narrower type of caller,’ Purtle said.  ‘988 is whole different animal.  It’s more callers, a wide array of challenges, and one would argue, probably, that different types of training need to be in place to meet people where they’re at when they call.’”