Ohio’s 988 suicide and mental health lifeline sees more than 12,000 calls, texts monthly

Ohio’s 988 suicide and crisis lifeline saw an average of more than 12,000 calls, texts and chats each month from people in need since the resource launched last year.

State officials say that number is expected to increase to roughly 14,000 requests for help each month by the end of the year.

“The demand for mental health services for youth and families has never been greater,” Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) director Lori Criss said on Friday during a press conference with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

“We know that reducing stigma and making help visible and accessible and easy to connect to can save lives.”

July 16 will mark one year since the launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in Ohio and across the nation. This transition was part of a federal law that required states to move from their 1-800 hotline numbers to 988.

By calling or texting 988 or chatting 988lifeline.org, a person will connect to care and support for any mental health or substance use-related distress.

The state budget signed by DeWine earlier this week includes $46.5 million in funding to sustain operation of the lifeline for the next two years.

“We are working to strengthen and expand Ohio’s crisis care system to help anyone who is in a mental health or addiction crisis – and their family members –quickly connect to help close to home,” said DeWine. “The 988 lifeline is a 24/7 resource for Ohioans, and it is saving lives.”

Ohio has 19 call centers, which are independent community providers answering the calls and texts through the 988 lifeline.

Montgomery County is served by the crisis call center located in Butler County, while Greene County’s call center also serves Clark, Champaign, Madison and Logan counties.

Roughly 88% of calls made to the crisis centers are answered in Ohio, with less than 2% rolling over to a national backup center, according to Ohio 988 administrator Doug Jackson.

The state estimates that 11% of calls are voluntarily ended by the caller before they are answered.

“We knew this first year would provide us with a great deal of insights and learning opportunities that were important to document and use in evaluations as 988 grows and becomes a more widely known and used resource,” Jackson said.

Montgomery County Alcohol Drug Addiction Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) and nonprofit RI International also operate their own crisis hotline called Crisis Now, which launched before the 988 lifeline became active. Montgomery County residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis can also call 833-580-CALL (2255).

About the Author