Social media users share frustrations with suicide prevention hotlines

A popular social media post expressed frustration with the national suicide prevention hotline. After calling the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (988), the social media user wrote, “no longer actively suicidal but am totally baffled at the lack of support offered.” In response to the post, other social media users shared their own negative experiences with the hotline, with one user noting that a hotline operator hung up on them. Launched by the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in summer 2022, millions of people have used the service through phone calls, texts, or online messages. But research from 2023 showed that only a quarter of people said they would be very likely turn to 988 in the future if they or a loved one were experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidality, and less than a third of people with severe psychological distress who had already tried the lifeline were very likely to use it again.


Conversations about the national suicide prevention hotline provide an opportunity to promote a variety of free or low-cost mental health resources in your community. Ensuring that 988 hotline FAQ sheets and one-pagers are updated to include additional resources for people in distress—such as support groups, sliding scale therapy, and local mental health centers—is recommended.