9-8-8 Suicide / Crisis Lifeline Marks First Anniversary

Since its launch in July 2022, the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline connects notably more Kansans to mental health resources in the Lifeline’s first full year of operation. In its first year, 9-8-8 saw a 73% increase in contacts compared to the year before the implementation of the three-digit dialing code.

July 16 marked the official first anniversary of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number, which connects everyone in the U.S. to a national network of local and state-funded crisis centers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide free and confidential support with trained crisis counselors.

National usage is rising as 9-8-8 received more than 4 million contacts since its launch last July, according to data from Vibrant Emotional Health, the organization appointed by the federal government to oversee the line. In Kansas, that number is approximately 24,000 through June this year — a 73% increase over the 10-digit hotline number that received 13,867 over the same period the previous year (July-June).

According to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s Office, our state is one of only 12 states nationally to maintain a rate of 90% or better consistently. According to data from Vibrant, 9-8-8 centers in Kansas have held an in-state call-answer rate of 88% to 92% month-over-month amid increased call volume. Just a few years ago, Kansas answered about 60% of National Suicide Prevention Line (NSPL) calls in-state, with many calls rolling over to national backup centers.

Kansas has also performed better than its national peers on average wait times (also known as speed to answer). That rate in Kansas is 21 seconds, outpacing the national average of 35 seconds.

Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters (KSPHQ) reports receiving an average of 1,230 calls each month from July 2022-June2023. An average of 15 calls, or 1.2%, per month resulted in emergency dispatch (response by emergency services for imminent risk of harm generally — though not always —with the caller’s permission). KSPHQ focuses on working collaboratively with callers to avoid emergency intervention and resolve crises during the initial contact and is equipped to connect callers to emergency service alternatives like mobile response teams and crisis-receiving facilities where available.