HAP's Latest News

The 988 Lifeline Call Volume Grows

March 16, 2023

Call volume to the nation’s new 988 crisis hotline continues to grow as Pennsylvania and other states look to improve their in-state answer rates to support people in distress.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) looks at the first six months of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and tracks the call volume, answer rates, and other performance metrics. The lifeline, which launched on July 16, 2022, provides an easy-to-remember resource for people needing assistance in crisis. The network includes more than 200 local and state funded crisis centers.

“Lifeline volume increased substantially following 988’s implementation and data reported after implementation suggests that, at the national level, 988 is keeping up with demand in terms of outreach volume, wait times, and answer rates, but there is state variation,” the report notes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In-state answer rates:  During December 2022, about 10 percent of calls were transferred to out-of-state overflow facilities and 11 percent were abandoned, the report notes.
    • Pennsylvania’s in-state answer rate was 82 percent.
  • Overall volume:  The combined number of calls, texts, and chats increased by 43 percent during December 2022 when compared to a year prior.
  • Improved wait times:  With the implementation of 988, the average wait time for all methods (call, chat, text) declined from two minutes, 52 seconds to 44 seconds.
  • Pennsylvania funding:  Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget address includes $5 million for a one-time system buildout of the lifeline and additional funding related to the operations of the hotline.
  • Assessing performance:  “The accessibility, reach, quality, equity, and impact of 988 services and outcomes will be revealed more clearly as 988 metrics and data standards improve and additional data become available,” the KFF report notes.

HAP supports strategies to bolster Pennsylvania’s behavioral health care system and ensure care is available where and when it is needed.

The KFF report is available online.

Note: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, help is available online or by texting or calling 988.