A Look at Suicide Rates Ahead of 988 Launch—A National Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline

(by Heather Saunders and Nirmita Panchal for KFF June 22, 2022)

Nearly half a million lives (480,622) were lost to suicide from 2010 to 2020. During the same period, the suicide death rate increased by 12% and as of 2009, the number of suicides outnumbered those caused by motor vehicle accidents. On July 16, 2022, the federally mandated crisis number, 988, will be available to all landline and cell phone users, providing a single three-digit number to access a network of over 200 local and state funded crisis centers. 988 callers who are suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis will be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and connected to a crisis counselor where they may receive crisis counseling, resources and referrals, and in some cases and where available, mobile crisis units may be dispatched.  While 988 is intended to help fill gaps in the behavioral health crisis continuum, there is concern about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s  readiness to handle the increased volume, which is expected to triple from 4 up to 12 million calls in the first year alone. In this issue brief, we use 2010 to 2020 CDC WONDER data to examine trends in suicide rates over time and by race and ethnicity, sex, age, and state, ahead of the implementation of 988. Continue reading here…

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