DAVENPORT, IOWA (July 10, 2023) — During the first year of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, two local crisis centers responded to 142 percent more contacts statewide than the previous year, connecting more Iowans experiencing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress with life-changing services. Between July 2022 and May 2023, over 31,000 Iowans contacted 988 for support.
July 16 marks the official one-year anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The introduction of a three-digit dial code was made to ease the connection with crisis services when individuals are experiencing a suicidal or mental-health-related crisis.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Individuals with an Iowa area code who reach out to 988 are routed to one of two non-profit agencies — CommUnity Crisis Services in Iowa City or Foundation 2 Crisis Services in Cedar Rapids.
“The increase in contacts shows this seemingly small change was a strong step in the right direction,” said Ryan Dickson, CommUnity’s Crisis Helpline Director. "Our team has created an incredible service that meets the support needs of Iowans and those across the country. It is amazing work they do, helping someone choose life."
Between July 2021 and May 2022, 62% Iowans who reached out to 988 for help reported experiencing a mental-health crisis, 33% reported experiencing emotional distress, and 5% reported having a suicide-related concern.
Reducing the number of steps and time it takes to connect people to the appropriate service increases the chances an individual will receive the help they need, ultimately creating healthier communities.
“We know that every time we answer the phone, we have the opportunity to be a life-changing and life-saving support,” said Emily Blomme, Chief Executive Officer of Foundation 2 Crisis Services. “Our goal is always to make it as easy as possible for people to reach our crisis counselors, and 988 is a valuable step in that direction.”
In more than 97 percent of contacts answered by Foundation 2 Crisis Services and CommUnity in the last year, the issue was able to be adequately handled by the crisis counselor over phone, chat, or text. In cases where further support is requested, the counselor can connect the individual in crisis to local resources, such as mobile crisis, which dispatches crisis counselors to respond in-person. Both CommUnity and Foundation 2 Crisis Services offer mobile crisis services, creating a continuation of care that strives to provide support in a timely manner.
If you or a loved one need emotional support, please do not hesitate to reach out. You are not alone. Text or call 988 or chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat. Contacting the Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 every day of the year.