Abstract

Context: To address the considerable burden of mental health need in the United States, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act in 2020. The Act rebranded the national suicide prevention lifeline as 988 – a 3-digit number akin to 911 for individuals to call in the case of a mental health emergency. Surprisingly little is known about American attitudes towards this new lifeline.

Methods: We rely on a demographically representative sample of 5,482 US adults conducted from June 24-28, 2022. We examine the influence of mental health status, partisan identification, and demographic characteristics on public awareness, public support, and intended use of the new 988 lifeline.

Findings: We find that while only a quarter of Americans are aware of the lifeline, support for the 988 lifeline is widespread, with over 75% of Americans indicating they would be likely to use the new number if needed. We identify key disparities in awareness, support, and intended use, with Republicans, individuals with low socio-economic status, and Blacks less supportive and in some cases less likely to use the 988 lifeline.

Conclusions: Our results point to the need for additional interventions that increase public awareness of 988 and reduce disparities in program knowledge, support, and intended use.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.