GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – South Carolina’s only National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center says the number of people reaching out for help has nearly doubled since 988 number became operational.
Mental Health America of Greenville County operates the call center.
Executive Director Jennifer Piver said without steady, state funding they cannot add more workers to deal with the extra call volume.
According to Piver, staff, volunteers and others have been doing a great job answering as many calls as possible during the last two weeks.
Piver said before the 988 changeover, the center was getting on average about 65 calls per day.
“Many people didn’t know about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This has brought more people to this service,” she said.
Data show the average pick-up time is 17 seconds. More data is below (MHAGC did not have data on texts or chats available yet):
Week 1 of 988
- 923 individuals reached out through phone calls
- 697 calls were answered
- 131 average amount of calls per day
- 101.1% increase
- Answer rates by day were from 57.5% to 86.7%
- 108 individuals waited and were transferred out of state
- 125 didn’t wait to be transferred and abandoned the call.
- Average speed of answer for calls this week was 17.3 seconds
Week 2 of 988
- 859 individuals reached out through phone calls
- 637 calls were answered
- 122 average amount of calls per day
- 87.7% increase
- Answer rates by day ranged from 69.0% to 82.7%
- 69 individuals waited to be transferred out of state
- 153 didn’t wait to be transferred and abandoned the call
- Average speed to answer the calls was 17.0 seconds
According to Piver, they are looking at trends to utilize their staff in the best way possible.
Calls that aren’t answered in South Carolina are routed to a back-up center in another state. Piver said it could take up to a couple minutes for someone to answer. She wants to assure anyone who reaches out, their call will be answered.
“We know it’s hard to wait for help when you are in distress. We assure you that 24/7/365 there are hundreds of compassionate 988 workers throughout the US who are there and want to be a support to you via calls, chats, or texts,” Piver said.
State lawmakers allocated about $1.3 million for a second 988 call center in South Carolina to help keep calls in the Palmetto State.
The state Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) hopes to have that operational by the start of 2023.
You can also connect with state resources directly. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call SCDMH’s Mobile Crisis Team at 833-364-2274.
Piver said they’ll continue to work with local, state and federal partners for funding. She said they’ve spoken with members of the General Assembly about establishing a sustainable state funding method.
For more information on how you can help Mental Health America of Greenville County click or tap here.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. You can also call SCDMH’s Mobile Crisis Team at 833-364-2274.