United Way sees call volume double after launch of new 988 mental health hotline

New 988 suicide hotline sees call volume double
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - Mental health is on the forefront of many people’s minds right now.

In response to this, mental health hotline 988 launched on Saturday free to anyone 24/7 who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.

Less than a week since launching, the phone calls have already increased.

According to United Way of Connecticut, just four days after launching 988, they saw a 50-percent increase in call volumes alone, adding that there has always been a demand.

“The times that we are living in and the way that the world is there are a lot of people that are sad and depressed, so I really believe in the hotline so, I believe mental health is real, and getting therapy. But I also believe in God and praying,” said Kimberly Bridges.

Bridges is a teacher, mentor and mental health advocate in Hartford.

She said this number provides what her students need.

“This is important because I had a student six months ago die from suicide, thirteen years old,” said Bridges.

988 is a nationwide suicide hotline that launched on Saturday.

It will connect you with local suicide prevention counselors.

Tools that many say at times were not accessible.

“It’s a very important item because we kind of sweep it under the rug. I think it’s a fantastic thing,” said Larry Beecham-Cable, of Hartford.

According to United Way of Connecticut on Saturday they saw calls to 988 nearly double.

“We have seen A big increase 50 percent on Saturday and 37 percent increase on Sunday I think it has to do with the 988 number being user friendly for people we except to see the trend continue,” said Tanya Barrett, Senior Vice President of United Way of Connecticut 211.

Experts said this new tool is crucial in addressing the ongoing looming statistics of suicide.

“Many people don’t realize suicide is the second leading cause of death in teens second leading cause of death of people in their 20s and actually the 3rd or 4th leading cause of death for people in the 40s and 50s so people like you and me are more likely to die by suicide or from heart disease or cancer,” said Dr. Seth Feuerstein at the Yale University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.

The hotline not only helps you in a real time crisis but provides long term resources as well.

“I think what’s important is the 988 hotline is helping people in immediate crisis also help connect them to longer term resources, not all people will need that,” said Ashley K. Hagaman, PhD MPH at the Yale University Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

For more information on 988, click here.