By Rob Wipond: Complete Post through this link…
As contacts to the new 988 hotline number have risen, so have call tracing and police interventions.
The rapid growth of the new 988 mental health hotline has been greeted with positive media coverage. As many people expected, calls, texts, and chats to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now renamed “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline,” started climbing immediately with the launch of the 988 number in July of 2022. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the nonprofit that was given centralized control over the 988 system, Vibrant Emotional Health (VEH), have been releasing monthly updates on key metrics.
In April 2023, compared to April 2022, calls answered increased by 52%, chats by 90%, and texts by 1022%. The trend was heralded by federal Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to CNN: “Our nation’s transition to 988 moves us closer to better serving the crisis care needs of people across America. 988 is more than a number, it’s a message: we’re there for you.”
However, as previously reported by Mad in America, a percentage of people who contacted the former National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were subjected to geolocation tracing of their phone, computer, or mobile device. The Lifeline advertised itself as a place for confidential discussions about suicidal feelings but, according to its own policy, if a call-attendant believed a person might be at “imminent risk” of taking their own life in the next few hours, days, or week, the call-attendant was required to contact 911 or a Public Safety Answering Point to send out police and/or an ambulance to forcibly take the person to a psychiatric hospital.
Many Lifeline users described the experiences of betrayal, public exposure, police interactions, loss of freedoms, and forced psychiatric treatment as dangerous, harmful and traumatizing.
So, since the transition to 988, has anything changed? As contacts to 988 rise, how many people are getting forcibly subjected to these types of unexpected, unwanted interventions?
It appears detention numbers are climbing dramatically, too—even as VEH, SAMHSA, and many news outlets continue to obfuscate the facts publicly.
Contacts and Detentions Rising Together
For the ten-month period from July 2022 to April 2023, the new 988 Lifeline received more than 4 million total contacts—on pace to double the average 2.4 million calls annually to the Lifeline from 2017 to 2021.
The 988 metrics that are publicly shared, though, do not include any information about call tracing and involuntary interventions.