988 hotline receives 5 million calls since launch

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, July 25, 2023

By: Olivia Johnson

Since its launch in July 2022, Suicide and Crisis Hotline 988 has received almost 5 million calls. However according to 988 Lifeline, four out of five people aren’t familiar with it.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline — formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — is a 24/7 call, text and chat line that gives users access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, or a mental health crisis. Before the change the hotline number used to be 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

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Tracy Halcrombe, creator of Joy Inside Tears, said she’s not surprised that everyone does not know about 988.

“People do know about 911 because that would just be in a pure emergency. But with the change in the number being just a few years ago, it has only expanded it and helped it reach a broader range and more efficiently through the use of live chat and social media,” Halcrombe said.

“The stigma with everything that has to do with crisis concerning mental health or with suicide prevention is what’s keeping people from getting the help that they need. 988 isn’t as promoted than other topics, for example lupus or breast cancer but we’re getting to a point where it is going to become more popular as we go on with the need and crisis’s that continues to stem in our communities and in this nation.”

In her work with Joy Inside Tears, Halcrombe provides resources, advocacy, support and educational training in mental health and suicide prevention to local communities and organizations.

“Last year, I created a community support group that meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month. We meet right in the Bank of America building in the United Way conference room,” Halcrombe said. “I