988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline gets 1.7 million calls, texts in first five months

By Brian Ward

Launched in mid-July 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is an emergency number similar to 911, aimed at helping people struggling with suicidality or other mental health issues. Five months after its launch, the Lifeline has received over 1.7 million calls, texts, and chats, NPR reports. Data also shows that use of the Lifeline is growing, along with awareness. Since launching, wait times to speak to a counselor and abandoned calls have decreased.

"So more people are being connected to those trained counselors and they're being connected more quickly to the life-saving services that are available," says Dr. John Palmieri, a psychiatrist overseeing the 988 launch for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration told NPR.  He also noted that there’s been a rise in people using text or chats to communicate with Lifeline, reflecting and adapting to changing trends.

"We know that texts and chat are modes of communication that are preferred by younger callers, younger people in crisis, and that those younger people in crisis tend to be in more acute stages of distress," says Palmieri.

To learn more about 988, how it works, and what to tell patients about it, check out our story: Answers to 988: What to tell patients about the new Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.