December 1, 2023

Call volume in Georgia has soared by 24% since switching over from the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to the new 988 system on July 16.

ATLANTA — In the first 45 days of its launch, the 988 Crisis Hotline has seen a large volume of calls and texts from people across the state of Georgia.

According to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), 988 calls are being answered in 7.4 seconds on average, and 97% of calls are being answered in-state.

David Sofferin, Director of Public Affairs at the DBHDD, explains the reasons why people reach out can vary.

“Some people are at risk of dying by suicide,” he told 11Alive’s Karys Belger.  “And see, we see those calls. But we also you know, we also see somebody calling who is in need of an outpatient appointment.”

Sofferin noted that one of the most important aspects of the new hotline is the fact that it works as a comprehensive mental health crisis hotline. He said that those who want to reach out don’t have to only be those at risk of dying by suicide.

RELATED: Here’s a look at how the new 988 mental health hotline is working in Georgia

The data showed the greatest prevalence of crisis calls came from in rural counties, one of the biggest needs in the state. The top five Georgia counties were Webster, Dougherty, Baker, Lowndes, and Early counties.

Paige Gaines, the founder of 911 Sane Jane, said that most of this has is related to access to resources.

“If you’re having a crisis and you’re waiting for somebody to come in, it could take just a little bit of time, longer than it would be if were in the city,” she said.

Preliminary data also found that around 10% of those reaching out are under the age of 18. But Gaines said that there is actually an upside to this statistic.

RELATED: She attempted suicide at 12 years old, but now she helps others cope with pain

“The technology is now there to meet that need so we’re having these teams reach out the best way they know how,” she said. “That’s a positive thing, you’re giving them that outlet and you’re giving them that resource directly where it should be.”

Gaines hopes that more people are aware of the hotline going forward and its ability to connect people with resources.

More data from the Georgia Department of developmental Health and Disabilities can be found here.

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