988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline LGBTQ+ Pilot Now 24/7 with Text and Chat
Vibrant Emotional Health is excited to announce that, starting Monday, March 6, 2023, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline LGBTQ+ pilot line is now available 24/7 by texting 988 and by chat at https://988lifeline.org/chat/) in addition to the “press 3” option available by phone 24/7. Prior to this, chat and text were only available from 3 p.m.-6 a.m. ET.
“We are thrilled that the 988 Lifeline LGBTQ+ pilot line will be expanding services across all modalities,” said Dr. Tia Dole, the Chief 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Officer of Vibrant Emotional Health. “We know that LGBTQIA+ youth are one of the most at-risk communities for suicide. Vibrant, SAMHSA and 988 want to be there to change that through affirming care.”
In September 2022, Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant), the nonprofit administrator of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988 Lifeline), announced a new pilot program featuring phone, text, and chat supports for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. The 7.2 million dollar pilot, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is aimed at providing persons under the age of 25 with the option of connecting with a counselor trained explicitly to support LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.
Callers to 988 Lifeline are prompted to press “3” if they are interested in accessing the pilot by call. Individuals can indicate their interest in LGBTQ+-affirming counseling by texting Q if they are texting or indicating interest in the pre-chat survey if using online chat.
Individuals wishing to access pilot specialized LGBTQ+ affirming counseling are connected to a subcontracted service provider 24/7/365 by chat, text, and by phone.
Since it began in September 2022 and through February 26, 2023, the demand for LGBTQ+ youth and young adult services (calls, chats, texts) accounted for about 6% of calls routed in the network and 11% of routed chats and texts, which was about 138,000 contacts total. Numbers by modality are about 68,000 calls; 31,000 chats; and 39,000 texts.
The recent KFF/CNN Mental Health In America Survey revealed that half (51%) of LGBTQ+ adults say they thought they needed mental health services in the past year but did not get them. A third (36%) describe their mental health as either “only fair” or “poor.” According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ+ young people over the last three years. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and 58% reported experiencing symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, this population’s access to mental health care is an increasing problem; 60% of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year could not access it.
Expanding the LGBTQ+ youth pilot line is one step of an ongoing effort to strengthen partnerships and services that enhance access to crisis care for historically marginalized populations at higher risk of suicide. Vibrant is currently developing partnerships and programs to provide enhancement in services for Native peoples and Tribal Communities, Black, and brown communities, older adults, people living in rural areas, and people with functional disabilities.