Quick Takes

Calls up 22% in year since Kentucky launched 988 crisis lifeline

By: - July 13, 2023 2:04 pm

Holliss Williamson answers 988 calls. She is a triage specialist at River Valley Behavioral Health in Owensboro, February 10, 2023. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Arden Barnes)

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Almost a year after Kentucky launched a simplified, 3-digit suicide prevention hotline number – 988 – Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that more people are calling and texting crisis counselors. 

The number, which replaced a still-active 10-digit number, launched July 15, 2022. Experts said giving people a shorter number to call would make emergency mental health help more accessible. 

“Since this free, confidential, 24/7 line launch, we have seen a significant increase in call volume, text messages and chats with a decrease in abandonment rates and speed to answer,” Besear said during his weekly news conference. 

Over the last year, Beshear said: 

  • More than 22,000 calls have been answered since last July, a 22% increase over the 12-month period before the launch of 988. 
  • 81% of all calls are answered in state. (Kentucky has 13 participating call centers who answer the line). 
  • Calls are answered in Kentucky at an average rate of  27 seconds. 
  • Call centers have received almost 9,000 text messages and 9,000 online chats 

“We are going through all types of trauma in our lives,” Beshear said. “Much of it is more than our bodies or our minds are able to handle. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to reach out for help.” 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.