September 19, 2022
To mark September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, health officials are reminding Minnesotans that suicide is preventable, recovery is possible and help is always available by dialing 988.
Earlier this summer, the US introduced a nationwide three-digit area code — 988 — to access suicide prevention and crisis support. Since switching to 988 on July 16, calls to the four Minnesota call centers have increased by 44%. Minnesota has also seen a 173% increase in web chats (since January 2022) and a 250% increase in texting to 988. The increase is believed to be in large part because the new 988 dialing option made it easier to remember how to access a trained suicide assistance counselor and resources. Minnesota received 33,887 calls, 4,099 chats, and 1,306 texts in 2021.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and four Minnesota call centers provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There remains a great need for 988 support services as suicide or death from intentional self-harm has steadily increased in Minnesota over the past 20 years. According to preliminary data, there were 777 suicides in 2021, reflecting trends in the United States. This is the seventh consecutive year that more than 700 Minnesotans have died by suicide. Additionally, more than 10,000 self-harm or suicidal injuries are treated by healthcare providers in Minnesota each year.
“We know the past few years have been incredibly challenging for many Minnesotans mentally, emotionally and physically,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said. “Please use this awareness month to check in with the people in your life and consider reminding them that the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available to anyone who is experiencing a crisis or needs mental health support. “
Local leaders, community organizations, and employers can take steps to prevent suicide:
- Share resources about 988 and other crisis services.
- Bring suicide prevention training to your school, faith group, workplace, or other community.
- Share suicide prevention messages and resources on social media. The Suicide Prevention Awareness Month messaging toolkit can help you get started.
- Encourage other programs within the community that promote positive, healthy activities and places of connection.
The four 988 call centers in Minnesota are Carver County Health and Human Services, Mental Health Crisis Program; First call; FirstLink; and Greater Twin Cities United Way.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is one of several ongoing suicide prevention initiatives in Minnesota, including mental health training for school staff and the Zero Suicide Initiative.
Minnesota began providing Kognito At-Risk mental health training free of charge to school staff showing signs of distress in May 2020. More than 13,215 Minnesota school staff have taken Kognito At-Risk.
Additionally, Kognito’s Friend2Friend is a student curriculum for grades 6-12 that teaches about emotional and mental well-being and how to support classmates who are struggling. To date, 757 students in eight school districts have completed Kognito Friend2Friend.
Another initiative is Zero Suicide, a framework to improve suicide and self-harm care in healthcare and behavioral health clinics and organizations. This initiative helps identify people with suicidal thoughts and connects them to resources and treatment options. It also focuses on ensuring that physicians and staff receive appropriate training in suicide prevention and intervention. In Minnesota, 36 health and behavioral health systems have committed to adopting the Zero Suicide framework and completed the first Zero Suicide training.
For those communicating or messaging about suicide, please see MDH’s Safe Messaging around Suicide (PDF).