By Sarah Ladd, Kentucky Lantern
This story is by the Kentucky Lantern, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. More of Kentucky Lantern’s work can be found at kentuckylantern.com. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
This story discusses suicide and mental health. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
Since the launch of a new and shorter Suicide Prevention Lifeline, calls in Kentucky have increased monthly, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.
The “mental health version of 911,” which is 988, launched in July 2022 with the goal of simplifying emergency mental health care and saving lives.
Since then, Beshear said, “trained counselors have now responded to an average of 2,420 calls per month.”
“That means that since 988 has been instituted, we’ve had a 26% increase in calls per month in comparison to the first half of 2022,” Beshear said.
Additionally, he said, 14% fewer calls were dropped. Most – 92% – of Kentucky’s 13 participating call centers answered in less than 20 seconds.
“You don’t want to have somebody on hold when they’re going through a mental health crisis,” Beshear said. “This is great news. It means the 988 helpline is working.”
Cabinet for Health and Family Services data reports there were 646 crisis text messages from Kentuckians from January and June of 2022. Then, after the 988 number launched, that jumped to 2,286 crisis messages – an increase of 254%.
The line was first proposed in 2019 as a way to simplify care by making the line easier to remember. Previously, the mental health line was a 10-digit number.
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