You know about 911, but the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline may still be a mystery.
Just as you call 911 for emergencies that threaten your body, calling 988 safeguards your mind. The free, confidential service is available to anyone in the U.S. who is in emotional distress or having a mental health or substance abuse crisis.
After one year of operation, the Lifeline is working.
“80- to 90%-plus of people who contact 988 are going to be de-escalated over the phone and ideally connected to local resources,” said National Alliance for Mental Illness Chief Advocacy Officer Hannah Wesolowski at a 988 anniversary event hosted by Hill.
4 million people contacted 988 in the first year. One hundred thousand new people reach out every week.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is Like 911, but Different
Here are 5 essential facts about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
Especially with the arrival of ChatGPT and other artificially intelligent helpers, if you want to be a durable human, you need to know how you differ from machines.
For starters, you are completely one-of-a-kind, whereas machines can be duplicated endlessly. You’re also a powerhouse of resources, starting with your masterful palette of senses. Sure, that’s the Famous Five, but also intuition, compassion, humor, and muscle memory, to name just a few. Children embody the all-important sense of wonder. (Read more in The Durable Human Manifesto)
Unlike what can be the seesaw of resilient, if you are durable, you are consistently active and effective for as long as possible.
Being a fully expressed “Durable Human” is an ideal. Like playing golf, you never quite reach perfection. But my dad came close.
A Mind of His Own
Consider how he lived just one day we were together in October 2022. He was 98 ¾ years old. It would have been the 75th anniversary of marrying my mom, who had passed away 10 years before.
As he did first thing each morning, my dad read two newspapers. Later, he’d watch the evening news and often recorded other news, information, or entertainment shows to view at his convenience.
Sometimes he was troubled by what he read or saw, but he had a neat trick for staying on the bright side.
Harris believes tech companies’ intentions were way off when they started Google, Facebook, and other platforms. He should know, having trained in the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab.
Since tech products could be accessed for free, users’ personal data were fair game, which companies made unprecedented sums from selling and re-selling. Individuals were hyper-targeted under the guise of “giving users what they want.”
Silicon Valley founders saw tech as a neutral vessel. That users became trapped in polarized filter bubbles was not the platforms’ problem.
The result today: the loudest and meanest social media opinions seem to be the majority. As Harris observes, “we start to believe the extreme voices and stereotypes represent the world.”
Besides political turmoil, he blames early Silicon Valley attitudes for creating problems ranging from information overload and addiction, to synthetic charlatans including bots and DeepFakes.
Over the years, it became standard practice to use psychological sleight of hand to keep users engaged.
Children have been especially affected. Since the dawn of social media, youth mental health has significantly eroded.
Spending a few minutes outdoors, chatting, and taking a nap are simple but powerful ways to fight stress, which has surged in the pandemic.
Between 2019 and 2020, stress levels of 8 in 10 adults shot upward, according to a Stress in America Harris Poll sponsored by the American Psychological Association. Family pressures have led to record levels of depression and anxiety among children, reports JAMA Pediatrics.
But neither adults nor kids need to grimace and bear it. There are lab-proven ways to cope.
Short-term versus Chronic Stress
Stress comes in two basics forms: short-term and longer-lasting, or “chronic.”
Short-term stress tends to go away. Like when your alarm goes off in the morning. You’re shocked at first, but once you get up and move on, you forget that initial jolt.
Longer-lasting stress is caused by longer-term life problems, such as financial strife or difficult relationships.
Left unchecked, stress can add up to major health problems. “When experienced over a long period of time, it has been linked with heart disease, diabetes and the spread of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases. And physiological responses can start young,” according to the journal Nature.
Yet, Nature concludes, “some people are remarkably resilient to these and other stressors.”