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Approaching one year since the launch of 988

Health experts say they've seen an increase in calls and texts since last summer
In just a few days, a new three-digit mental health hotline is set to go live across the country: 988.
Posted at 8:36 PM, Jun 05, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been available nationwide since July 2022. The resource is approaching its one-year anniversary.

Suicide rates had decreased from 2019-2020, but increased from 2020-2021, according to the CDC.

After the launch of 988 in July, health experts have seen a high call and text volume monthly.

"We're seeing a significant kind of trend in call volume. March being our highest month thus far with over 10,000 calls," said Johnnie Gasper with Arizona Complete Health.

The 988 lifeline, as well as other crisis hotlines, see an average of 9,000 inbound and outbound calls or texts monthly. Gasper said callers are in good hands.

"They're trained counselors conducting a triage, trying to de-escalate and then ensuring that you have ongoing resources and support systems after that call is concluded," said Gasper.

Gasper said they'll notice trends within students using the lifeline during testing periods or within adults during hot summer months.

"We have the ability to connect people in real time to resources, walk through and discuss some of the triggers that may have occurred," said Gasper.

In some circumstances, a mobile team is sent to the person in need. In Southern Arizona, the average response time for a mobile crisis team is under 40 minutes.

Though a majority of the phone calls are related to anxiety and depression, the people answering the phone are trained to handle any type of mental health crisis.

Gasper said most calls and texts are answered within 3 seconds.

Mental Health Resources:

Faith Abercrombie is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before coming to KGUN, Faith worked as a videographer for the Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation and as a reporter and producer on the youth suicide documentary, "Life is..." on Arizona PBS.
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