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Governor Kelly Highlights Kansas’ Continued Success with 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

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TOPEKA, Kan. – Governor Laura Kelly announced Monday that since its launch in July 2022, the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline connects notably more Kansans to mental health resources in the Lifeline’s first full year of operation. In its first year, 9-8-8 saw a 73% increase in contacts compared to the year before the implementation of the three-digit dialing code.  

July 16 marked the official first anniversary of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number, which connects everyone in the U.S. to a national network of local and state-funded crisis centers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide free and confidential support with trained crisis counselors. 

“Investing in mental health resources like 9-8-8 is critical to saving the lives of Kansans in crisis,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These services make a positive impact by knocking down barriers and stigmas surrounding mental health and connecting people to necessary mental health care professionals and resources.” 

National usage is rising as 9-8-8 received more than 4 million contacts since its launch last July, according to data from Vibrant Emotional Health, the organization appointed by the federal government to oversee the line. In Kansas, that number is approximately 24,000 through June this year — a 73% increase over the 10-digit hotline number that received 13,867 over the same period the previous year (July-June).   

The Kelly administration’s investment in 9-8-8 has improved in-state answer rates, making Kansas one of only 12 states nationally to maintain a rate of 90% or better consistently. According to data from Vibrant, 9-8-8 centers in Kansas have held an in-state call-answer rate of 88% to 92% month-over-month amid increased call volume. Just a few years ago, Kansas answered about 60% of National Suicide Prevention Line (NSPL) calls in-state, with many calls rolling over to national backup centers. 

Kansas has also performed better than its national peers on average wait times (also known as speed to answer). That rate in Kansas is 21 seconds, outpacing the national average of 35 seconds.  

“The efforts of our state leadership and strategic community partners have led to the successful implementation of an exceptional mental health resource that is meeting the needs of thousands of Kansans trying to manage crisis in their daily lives,” KDADS Secretary Laura Howard said. “I think the increase in the number of contacts we’ve seen in the last year bears that out, and we can proudly say that every call, text, or chat we receive has the potential to be life-changing or lifesaving.” 

Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters (KSPHQ) reports receiving an average of 1,230 calls each month from July 2022-June2023. An average of 15 calls, or 1.2%, per month resulted in emergency dispatch (response by emergency services for imminent risk of harm generally — though not always —with the caller’s permission). KSPHQ focuses on working collaboratively with callers to avoid emergency intervention and resolve crises during the initial contact and is equipped to connect callers to emergency service alternatives like mobile response teams and crisis-receiving facilities where available.  

“KSPHQ has been so honored to provide lifesaving services throughout Kansas during this first year of 9-8-8,” said Monica Kurz, VP of Policy & Prevention, KSPHQ. “The success we’ve had in delivering timely and high-quality crisis mental health support to our neighbors is a testament to the passion and dedication of our counselors and staff as well as the state’s investment in crisis mental health services.”  

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