WISCONSIN — Three digits can save a life.
It’s been one year since the Wisconsin Department of Health Services launched 988 Wisconsin Lifeline. On July 16, 2022, there was a national transition from the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Over the first year of the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline (from July 2022 to June 2023), Wisconsinites called in 72,487 times — an average of 5,900 times per month. Wisconsinites texted or used online chats 19,347 during the first year; Wisconsinites contacted the lifeline for mental health or substance support, in some way, a total of 91,834 times.
Wisconsin DHS said more than 98% of the contacts the lifeline received were resolved via conversation. This reduced “pressures on the state’s system of emergency services for mental health and substance use concerns.”
“The 988 Wisconsin Lifeline is a critically important resource for Wisconsinites to be able to talk to someone when they need to,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “We are proud of the work the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline team has done over the last year to provide hope, help and support for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges.”
The 988 Wisconsin Lifeline serves the entire state and is managed by the Family Services of Northwest Wisconsin. Contacts are kept confidential, unless there is imminent danger to the caller or others. When someone calls, a staff member helps the caller reduce stress, provides emotional support and connects them with local resources.
While most contacts are handled in-state, if the Wisconsin team is unavailable to take the call, text or chat, the contact is re-routed automatically and someone from a backup support center will provide support.
The lifeline is working to hire more staff, so even more local contacts will be handled in Wisconsin. Wisconsin DHS said there is going to be a new remote work option, which would allow staff members to be located anywhere in Wisconsin.
“The 988 Wisconsin Lifeline staff work all hours to assure no one in Wisconsin has to carry their worries alone,” said Kirsten Johnson, Wisconsin DHS secretary-designee. “We are grateful for their dedicated service and look forward to continuing to partner with them to strengthen this life-saving service, making mental health and substance use care more accessible to all state residents.”
Access the chat and learn more about 988 here.