According to data released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina is seeing a 22% year-over-year increase in calls to mental health hotlines.
On July 16, North Carolina launched the 988 Mental Health Hotline. The 988 number has replaced the longer 1-800 number associated with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Renee Rader, assistant director of policy and programs for the Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, said the state has increased staffing in light of the new number launch.
“When the 988 went live in the first month, we saw a 142% increase in daily volume, which was amazing,” said Rader.
Overall calls to suicide hotlines show how much the 988 hotline is needed.
- 2019 – 33,379 callers (2,781.58 calls per month)
- 2020 – 37,233 callers (3,102.75 calls per month)
- 2021 – 36,299 callers (3,024.92 calls per month)
- 2022 (through August 31) — 29,573 (3,697.38 calls per month)
The number of suicides in North Carolina has also increased year by year since 2019.
- 2019 – 1,358
- 2020 – 1,436
- 2021 (preliminary figure) — 1,450 (average of 120 per month) (up 7% from 2019)
- 2022 (through September) — 1,054 (compared to 1,088 last year)
“Obviously the biggest thing is the pandemic that just happened,” said North Carolina State University student Emma Scardina.
State leaders say people between the ages of 20 and 24 are most likely to commit suicide.
In August, the new 988 hotline received an average of 160 calls per day, with nearly 2,000 first-time calls. A counselor called the police he called 10 times. In 33 situations, dispatchers dispatched mobile crisis management units.
“It’s setting off more alarms for us,” Raeder said. “We’re putting more effort into suicide prevention.”
According to Radar, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 18.
“We’re certainly seeing more people go to emergency departments for self-harm,” Raider said.
A North Carolina State University student tells WRAL Investigates that social media is causing mental health decline.
“All over the internet, how can I be better, how should I be more successful, this kid is doing this, this kid is doing that,” said Jaden Jenkins, a student at North Carolina State University. “And you’re here and the pressure makes it seem like we’re not where we should be.”
The state wants to increase suicide treatment and education. As part of that education, we encourage safe storage of weapons and medical supplies.