HAP's Latest News

The 988 Lifeline One Year Later

July 20, 2023

More than 80 percent of Americans are not familiar with the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline a year after its launch, but calls to the new federal hotline continue to increase.

The June 2023 poll from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and other recently released data highlight the opportunity to raise awareness for the new lifeline that connects Americans with trained counselors during times of crisis.

The 988 lifeline had about a 33 percent increase in calls, texts, and chats during May when compared to call volume for the prior year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

“The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a life-saving resource,” Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm said in a statement. “We are facing a behavioral health crisis in this country. With our continued investment in 988, and the addition of Spanish language text and chat services, we are furthering our commitment to addressing this crisis head on.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • By the numbers:  The lifeline continues to drive an increase in calls, texts, and chats, with five million contacts answered during the past year. This includes about a million contacts that were answered by the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Response rates:  Answer rates for the national call line increased from 70 percent during May 2022 to 93 percent during May 2023, KFF noted.
  • Pennsylvania perspective:  KFF reported the commonwealth’s in-state answer rate during April and May 2023 was 79 percent, which would rank 39 in the nation. This measure looks at the number of calls answered within state borders and those that were redirected out-of-state.
    • Mississippi had the highest in-state answer rate (98%), while Alabama had the lowest (55%).
  • Awareness stats:  LGBTQ+ Americans are twice as likely to say they are familiar with 988 than non-LGBTQ+ Americans, the NAMI poll found. Adults under 49 also are more likely than older Americans to know about 988.
    • About 3 percent of Americans reported calling 988 for themselves, and another 3 percent had called for a loved one.
  • Quotable: “We are also celebrating the overwhelmingly unified support of Americans to ensure every person in crisis gets the help they need and deserve,” NAMI CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr said in a statement. “This is a call to action for our policymakers to continue to prioritize reimagining our response to people in mental health crisis.”

Additional information about the NAMI poll is available online.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals are dedicated to supporting mental and behavioral health in our communities. Learn more about our advocacy to ensure all Pennsylvanians can access care when and where they need it.

Note: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, help is available online or by texting or calling 988.