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MDHHS highlights importance of 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline during Mental Health Month

LANSING, Mich. – As the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) commemorates Mental Health Month this May, the state is highlighting the success of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and detailing information to ensure access of this vital resource for all residents.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, first launched in July 2022. It is a 24/7 toll-free nationwide hotline where compassionate care and accessible support is available via call, chat or text. 988 is for anyone experiencing behavioral health-related distress – whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 

“Michigan’s 988 Lifeline receives as many as 8,000 calls per month,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “The compassionate staff who answer these calls within seconds are well-trained to help and connect those experiencing crisis with support and resources. We encourage anyone personally experiencing a crisis or their family members to use this resource whenever they may need it.”

In March 2024, Michigan received the seventh highest volume of 988 calls in the country with 8,845 calls. Of the seven high-volume states, Michigan had the quickest average speed of answer and the highest answer rate. The average speed to answer, which is the average amount of time it takes for a 988 call to be picked up, was 17 seconds and the answer rate, which is the percentage of calls originating in Michigan that were answered by an in-state 988 center, was 90%. 

The support offered to Michigan residents through 988 is vital in providing de-escalation of crisis and reducing levels of distress. It’s not unusual for callers to reach out to 988 with thoughts of suicide or in mental health crisis, and 988 specialists will remain on the call the entire time to provide compassionate support and connection to life-saving resources.

Each caller is offered a follow-up call to ensure well-being and confirm connection to resources. At the beginning and close of each 988 call, individuals are asked to self-report their level of distress. State data shows that about 46% of individuals are calling in and reporting overwhelming and high levels of distress, and by the end of the call, only 16% are still reporting overwhelming and high levels of distress. 

Currently, Michigan is answering 988 calls, and chats and texts are being answered by national backup centers. The state is implementing technology to answer chat and texts in the upcoming year. Integrating text and chat options into Michigan’s 988 system not only addresses the communication preferences of youth, but also provides the opportunity to connect Michigan youth who are struggling with local resources and supports.

Youth mental health has been a growing concern, underscored by statistics revealing a troubling rise in loneliness and negative mental health experiences among young people. According to the most recent Center of Disease Controls’ (CDC) Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS) in 2021, mental health remains a significant issue among Michigan high school students.  

According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and trends Report, in 2021:

  • 40.3% of high school students felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row during the last 12 months.
  • 31.5% reported their mental health was not good always or most of the time.
  • 19% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year.
  • 16.9% of high school students made a suicide plan during the past year.
  • 9% of high school students attempted suicide one or more times during the past year.

For more information on 988, visit

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