The FAMCare Blog

Suicide Prevention

Posted by GVT Admin on Feb 7, 2024 8:57:25 AM

Suicide Prevention

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more people died from suicide in the United States in 2022 than any other year on record dating back to 1941. In 2022 (the last year for which stats are available), 49,449 lives were lost due to intentional self-harm. Men were about four times more likely than women to die by suicide, and rates were highest among senior men. But the suicide rate increased twice as much for women in 2022 with especially significant increases among White women ages 25 to 34.

Treatment Shortfall

The CDC reports that only one-half of people with mental illness receive treatment.

  • The first cause of this apparent neglect is that sufferers often fail to seek treatment because of the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • In addition, limits on access to mental health care is particularly problematic for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, low income and people of other marginalized identities who experience the dual realities of high need for mental health support and barriers to care. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), racism is a public health threat that affects the entire nation.

Access to Treatment

Few people seem to be aware of the constant work the social work community has been doing in response to this growing suicide crisis. In recent years, government and nonprofit agencies alike have invested countless man hours and billions of dollars to make the latest crisis communication technology available to everyone equally.


988 is the new short code created to expand access to mental health services provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  The current administration has recently invested almost $1 billion to support the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Prior to this investment, the 988 Lifeline, which has existed since 2005, had been long underfunded and under resourced. Congress has provided the Department of Health and Human Services funding through the American Rescue Plan, and the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 allows states to enact new telecommunication fees to help support 988 operations.

There are also several existing federal resources that can be leveraged to support 988 implementations. Examples from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) include 988 Lifeline grants to states; the 988 Lifeline crisis center follow-up grant; the crisis set-aside through the Mental Health Block Grant; and funding through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program.

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is a global nonprofit organization providing free and confidential text-based mental health support and crises intervention by texting HOME to 741741. The Crisis Text Line serves people across the United States experiencing any type of crisis and provides free, 24/7 emotional support and information through texting with a live, trained specialist. For the past eight years, Crisis Text Line has conducted roughly 3,500 conversations a day with people in pain through a medium that works for them: text messaging. Texting breaks through some of the barriers to access and addresses the economic and lifestyle needs of Americans who need support.

  • To limit the economic burden of mental health care, Crisis Text Line works with major phone carriers to ensure that most texting in crisis is not charged standard messaging rates.
  • Texting offers people adaptability to reach out for support when and where they need it. People can text while on a break at work or school, making dinner, hanging out with friends, or caring for a loved one.
  • Texting is the dominant, preferred mode of communication for many Americans, especially young people. It is part of their way of life.
  • Texting is anonymous and confidential. People in dangerous situations can text to reach out for help while in the presence of an abuser without ever needing to speak about it verbally, and without placing themselves in further danger.
  • Crisis Text Line uses patented triage technology that flags and prioritizes people who are at imminent risk for harming themselves or others and moves them to the front of any line. This technology works so well that the crisis text line connects these high-risk "texters" to a live volunteer in eight seconds or less.

Crisis Text Line + 988

The social work community is working to build 988 into a service that is truly accessible to all, especially considering the needs of young people who may not have autonomy over their own mental health care.

  • Inclusion of a free, flexible, text-based service in the new 988 short code enables youth to get a high standard of care in a medium that is comfortable to them. 
  • The new triage technology mentioned above will also be key to the success of 988.  
  • Crisis Text Line has also found that a strong volunteer base is key to maximizing mental health support on a national scale utilizing the new 988 short code.

These innovations designed and implemented by a dedicated social work community are not intended to cure mental health but rather to make support readily available to sufferers who find themselves in crisis. It has proven to be a noble effort.


Topics: mental health, social issues

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