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Survey Finds Most U.S. Adults Unaware of 988 Suicide Line

Nine months after the launch of the nationwide 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, just 13% of adults in the U.S. have heard of it and know its purpose, according to a national survey done for The Pew Charitable Trusts in April. The service, launched in July 2022, was established by Congress to connect the growing number of people experiencing mental health or substance use crises to a counselor instead of relying only on responses to 911 calls by police or ambulances. According to Pew, the effectiveness of a standard number relies on people being aware both of its existence and of when to call.

Although 18% said they had heard of 988, over a fourth of these individuals indicated they didn’t know or weren’t sure when someone should contact it. When informed of what 988 was for, about seven in 10 people said they were somewhat likely or highly likely to use it. About two in five expressed concern that calling 988 might result in law enforcement being sent, being forced to go to the hospital, being charged for services they couldn’t afford to pay, or other people finding out they’d called. Twice as many white, non-Hispanic people had heard of 988 and knew its use compared with their Black, non-Hispanic counterparts, with Hispanic people similarly having lower awareness. Those with a college education and those making over $50,000 a year had greater awareness of 988. People who said they had been diagnosed with or believe themselves to have a mental health issue were more likely to be aware of and know the reason for 988 than respondents overall. 988 awareness for people who identified themselves as LGBTQ+ was also higher than for people who identified as straight/heterosexual.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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