Since July 2022, calling or texting 988 in the US connects callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline following a law passed by Congress to simplify access to the mental health crisis line in the US. Compared with other areas of suicide research, knowledge regarding how and to what extent crisis lines prevent suicide crises and suicide deaths remains in its infancy. The state of this research is briefly reviewed and critical directions for future research on factors that may influence effectiveness are suggested.
The new 988 line stands to improve access to critical lifesaving measures in the moments of a suicidal crisis. However, urgent questions remain regarding how to improve effectiveness of crisis lines. Available evidence suggests that crisis lines are often effective at reducing immediate distress and reducing suicide risk, but substantial gaps remain in understanding how crisis lines work.
Conclusions and Relevance
Future research is recommended with suicide prevention crisis lines, such as 988, to identify and test factors influencing effectiveness, including conversation, consumer, dyadic, and structural-level characteristics. Existing research, while minimal, suggests that prescription of 988 to prevent suicide death is clinically warranted, but much more work is needed to optimize care.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Accepted for Publication: August 23, 2022.
Published Online: October 12, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3270
Corresponding Author: Adam Bryant Miller, PhD, RTI International, 3040 E Cornwallis Rd, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 (email@example.com).
Author Contributions: Dr Miller had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Miller, Oppenheimer, Glenn.
Obtained funding: Miller, Yaros.
Administrative, technical, or material support: All authors.
Supervision: Miller, Yaros.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: Preparation of this manuscript was supported grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (grant K01MH116325 to Dr Miller) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant R01CE003295 to Dr Yaros).
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
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