Crisis lines: Current status and recommendations for research and policy
Zabelski, S., Kaniuka, A.R., Robertson, R.A., & Cramer, R.J.
Objective: The 988 telephone number was established by the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 and implemented in July 2022 as a more accessible way to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Current financial and training resources, however, are insufficient to ensure effective implementation. Methods: To better understand the state of the literature on crisis support lines in light of the 988 transition, the authors summarized research on suicidal and nonsuicidal outcomes of callers, research on other types of crisis support services, and the benefits of text- and chat-based crisis lines. Results: Overall, existing evidence for the effectiveness of crisis lines has been weak and has primarily focused on short-term improvements in user distress and on user satisfaction. In addition, research on crisis lines specifically targeted to marginalized populations (e.g., sexual minority groups) and on text- or chat-based crisis lines is lacking. Conclusions: The policy-focused recommendations derived from this review include the need for additional research on crisis lines, design and evaluation of culturally tailored training for volunteers and staff, and ethical oversight of private data collected from crisis services. Scaling up state-level planning and comprehensive crisis systems is necessary to successfully implement 988 and to fill current training and research gaps.