Recently the 988-suicide lifeline was created to increase access to support around suicidal thoughts, plans and actions. The establishment of this easy-to-remember, 3-digit lifeline illustrates the current trend of being more supportive of mental health in our country and the world. Suicide is now viewed as a preventable public health problem.
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Goals include a commitment to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices and building awareness. You can call or text this lifeline, as well as chat online through the website.
After dialing 988, callers can expect to speak with a trained professional who will listen and support them. If you’re worried about someone else (a friend, family member or loved one) you should also call 988 and find out what you can do to support them. Some common warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
If the operator is concerned you are in imminent harm, they may have to send law enforcement or an ambulance to your location to ensure your safety. This could result in you being transported to the hospital. Like many states, Vermont now has crisis responders who are trained mental health professionals in certain areas. These folks often respond with, or in replacement of law enforcement. They are trained in mental health and crisis support and can allow you to stay home and avoid going to the hospital or an inpatient setting.
If someone refuses to call or has you call 988, you can also use what is called a “warmline.” Warmlines are phone numbers you can call to have a conversation with someone who can provide support during hard times. Whether in crisis or just needing someone to talk to, a warmline can help. They are staffed by trained peers who have been through their mental health struggles and know what it’s like to need help. They are free and confidential. Warmlines are different from the 988 lifeline that focuses on keeping you safe at the moment by getting you connected with crisis resources as soon as possible. However, you can still call a warm line when you are in crisis. Warmlines may help you prepare mentally for the next step of seeking out more formal treatment and support. Vermont’s warmline can be reached at 833-888-2557 and is open from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. 7 days a week.
According to Vermont data from January of 2021:
- Young populations, specifically ages 15-24, have intentional self-harm rates higher than any other age group.
- Suicide rates are highest among ages 25-44.
- Most of Vermont’s hospital visits for self-harm are poisonings or attempted overdoses.
- Most suicide deaths are due to firearms in Vermont (Most deaths by suicide had noted risk factors. Vermonters who served in the U.S. armed forces represent 20% of suicide deaths.).
- LGBT and BIPOC populations are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and/or attempt suicide.
- Hospital visit rates for intentional self-harm are significantly higher for females.
- Suicide deaths are significantly higher in males.
For more information and other support websites and phone numbers, visit our Education and Resources page.