988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Awareness Campaign Launched by Louisiana Department of Health During Mental Health Awareness Month

By Calcasieu Staff
Published May 03, 2023

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988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Awareness Campaign Launched by Louisiana Department of Health During Mental Health Awareness Month

Louisiana – The Louisiana Department of Health has launched a 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Awareness Campaign to raise awareness during Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Louisiana Department of Health is beginning a campaign to raise awareness of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeine this May, which is marked annually as Mental Health Awareness Month. The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone experiencing mental health problems or who is concerned about a loved one who may require crisis intervention. 988 crisis counselors have been trained to help lower the intensity of a situation for the individual seeking assistance and, if necessary, connect them to further local services to support their well-being.

Devastating hurricanes, the opioid epidemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all put Louisianans’ mental health and wellness to the test in recent years. Too many of us are suffering from mental health issues without receiving the necessary support and care. According to National Center for Health Statistics data:

  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the third leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-24.
  • In 2021, 48,183 Americans died by suicide, including 689 in Louisiana.
  • One death by suicide occurs every 11 minutes.

“Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity for us to recommit to raising awareness about the importance of mental health in the lives of all Louisianans,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available to anyone in mental health distress. If you’re depressed, going through a hard time, thinking about suicide or just need to talk, 988 is for you. 988 is for all of us.”

LDH is creating an online 988 Dashboard as part of the 988 awareness campaign, offering transparency on key metrics of crisis call data from Louisiana’s two 988 crisis centers. The dashboard, which will be updated regularly, includes stats on accessibility, referral source, reason for call, and some outcomes, but no historical summaries. Because it is not always possible to collect data during a crisis call, demographic data is only available for about 20% of calls. Calls to 988 are kept private, and any self-reported data is aggregated before being shared with the public. LDH hopes that this reassures callers that they can phone 988 and remain anonymous.

According to the dashboard, among Louisiana callers who self-report to 988:

  • 59.4% are White and about 34.8% are Black.
  • 60.6% are female and 38.9% are male.
  • 32.2% are ages 25-40, 18.9% are ages 18-24 and 18.1% are ages 41-59.
  • The most common referrals were for mental health, housing and financial assistance.
  • Orleans, East Baton Rouge and Jefferson parishes had the highest volume of calls.

LDH will also begin airing public service announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish on 75 radio stations across the state this week, promoting the 988 Lifeline’s 24/7 phone, text, and chat access to trained crisis counselors.

“Together, we can help to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment and services. We can do so by starting the conversation. Talk about it. And, remember: It’s OK to not be OK,” said Karen Stubbs, assistant secretary of the LDH Office of Behavioral Health. “Your feelings are valid and you are not alone.”