US suicide hotline gets 1.7 million calls, texts, emails in first 5 months
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Also known as 988, initial rollout of call center flooded, connecting counsellors to crisis situations

MICHIGAN, United States

The recently rolled-out 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline took in 1.7 million calls, texts, and chats in the initial five months of its establishment, according to reporting by National Public Radio.

A national line also known as 988, the hotline has been flooded by messages from those contemplating suicide or dealing with a mental health issue. It operates 24/7 aiming to connect counsellors to those in need.

Rolled out in July 2022, the Federal government invested $1 billion in the Lifeline, $500 million of which was included in the most recent federal spending bill passed by Congress.

The 988 number had been a more traditional seven-digit number, but was shortened to three digits, thought not only to be faster to dial in a crisis but more memorable. The abbreviated version is akin to 911, the well-known number people use to call in case of emergency.

Many US states have come on board to pass legislation to fund the 988 network as well. Only five states however have done so, with a small fee passed onto users’ bills, similar to that for 911.

Sixteen other states though have created a trust fund that permanently pays for the 988 hotline and other crisis-related services.

In addition, the funds also support Spanish-speaking networks along with backup call centers responding to callers who might not be able to reach centers closer to them.​​​​​​​

Source: Anadolu Agency

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