Last summer, the 988 hotline for mental health emergencies launched in Virginia and nationwide as part of a federal effort to create a more streamlined approach to accessing crisis support for those in immediate need.
After an initial spike in 988 calls during its rollout, 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline data shows the commonwealth now receives an average of almost 6,000 calls a month – up from over 4,300 a month in the year prior.
Bill Howard, director of the Crisis Supports & Services division with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), said the average rate of 988 calls answered in Virginia has greatly increased over the past two years as well.
Howard said approximately 52% of the calls were answered in Virginia in January 2021 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – a longer, harder-to-remember number that was replaced by 988 on July 16, 2022. As of May this year, he said, Virginia answered 92% of the 988 calls received.
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