Missouri is a national leader when it comes to 988 crisis hotline response times. That is what Director Valerie Huhn, the Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health told a committee of lawmakers this week.

In October, Missouri 988 received 5,311 phone calls, 94% of which were answered locally with the average wait time being about 14 seconds. The crisis line also responded in very quick fashion to the influx of text and chat messages received as well.

“We’re trying to figure out how, we’re doing a great job messaging 988, we’re getting some of the most calls in the country because of our efforts, but how do I reach the person who doesn’t necessarily think this service is for them? That’s really what I want to focus on next,” she said.

Despite the quick response times, Huhn said it’s not enough.

“I am troubled everyday when I hear about a suicide that’s occurred in our state,” said Huhn. “I’ve had, I think we had three young women, just in the last month, die by suicide. Young women don’t die by suicide. What is going on, here?”

She still hears and reads reports of suicide happening in Missouri.

“How do I find the person who has had that traumatic event, who just needs, maybe six months or a year of support, but doesn’t think the service is for them because this is exactly who this service is for,” she said. “So, I will continue to push on 988. Suicide will continue to be something that we talk about a lot at the department.”

You can call or text 988 or chat virtually by going to 988lifeline.org.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.