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Suicide hotline receives more calls after 988 number launches

To simplify calling for help, last year Congress passed – and the president has now signed - a bill to set aside what will be a new three-digit suicide prevention hotline – 988. It is supposed to launch in July of next year.
Posted at 11:52 AM, Sep 16, 2022

It has been two months since the launch of the new 988 suicide and crisis lifeline number, and there has been a jump in people contacting the lifeline since the switch.

Nationally, more than 83,000 additional contacts were made in August compared to June.

Calls to the veterans crisis line aren't included in these figures, but veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than those who have not served.

Data indicates veteran suicides have decreased over the last two years.

“If there's one good aspect of the pandemic from my perspective, I think it's really open dialogue across the nation, and including veterans with regard to the importance of mental health, wellness, and well-being, and how mental health is physical health,” said Matthew A. Miller who heads suicide prevention with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veterans Health Administration said it's seeing success using artificial intelligence to help identify veterans at the highest risk for suicide.

A computer scans electronic health records of patients in the system to identify those showing warning signs.

“Certain medical issues or facing medical complexities is a risk factor for a lot of individuals, and the more at risk you are from a medical perspective,” Miller said. “Generally speaking, we found that there is a relationship for risk with regard to suicide and suicide prevention.”

Resources to help are available by calling 988.