After one month, Nebraska's new 988 service 6% above first goal

Aug. 22, 2022, 5:30 a.m. ·

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was replaced by 988
The new 988 service went live on July 16, 2022. (Photo courtesy Nebraska DHHS)

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Nebraska’s new suicide prevention hotline came in 6% above its target in the first month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

From July 16 to August 16, Nebraska’s 988 call center at Boys Town received 1,538 calls. The Department of Health and Human Services said crisis counselors resolved 96.3% of those calls by phone. The first month's goal was 90%, said Michelle Nunemaker, the state’s 988 planner.

“It’s going really well,” she said.

Crisis counselors determined 0.3% of the calls needed a behavioral health team, and another 3.4% needed emergency services.

Nunemaker said those 0.3% calls will be the focus of the coming months. Only five people consented to talking to the behavioral health team in-person. In all, 24 callers were offered the service. Nunemaker said Boys Town will soon offer a phone or telehealth option in hopes more of those callers will take the offer.

“We can still get them connected with services and supports in their time of need, but also doing it in such a way that they would feel comfortable and would be more open and receptive to supports,” Nunemaker said.

Of those 1,538 calls, Nunemaker said 41% listed suicide as the primary concern. Another 27% listed mental health as the issue and 0.7% were substance use related. The remaining 31.3% were people seeking information about the new service.

After one month, Nunemaker said she wants Nebraskans to know the 988 service works.

“Two people in fact have let us know that utilizing 988 and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline has truly saved either their life or their life over the life of a family member.”