CHEYENNE (WNE) — In July 2022, Wyoming and the rest of the nation transitioned to a simplified 988 number for suicide lifeline services. That same month, the state began offering full-time, …
CHEYENNE (WNE) — In July 2022, Wyoming and the rest of the nation transitioned to a simplified 988 number for suicide lifeline services. That same month, the state began offering full-time, Wyoming-based coverage 24 hours a day, every day.
One year later, Gov. Mark Gordon says that the 988 service and Wyoming-based crisis counselors are making a difference in reaching more individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
According to data from the Wyoming Department of Health, since the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline went into effect, Wyoming crisis workers have taken more than 4,200 calls. Of those calls, 99.8% did not require law enforcement or EMS intervention.
In the year prior to 988, there were nearly 1,800 calls answered, an increase that officials attribute to both increased awareness through advertising, as well as the simplified, easier- to-remember number.
“These statistics are very encouraging,” Gordon said in a news release.“The fact we are receiving more calls reflects the importance of this service — and the fact that the vast majority are handled without having to rely on law enforcement or EMS underscores the effectiveness and value of the lifeline. Wyoming is taking some positive steps in addressing the issue of suicide, but there is more work to be done.”
Wyoming has the most suicides per capita of any state most years, and Gordon has put an emphasis on shoring up Wyoming’s mental health care.
During the 2023 legislative session, he signed House Bill 65 establishing the 988 system for suicide prevention. The Legislature did not establish a permanent funding source for the lifeline, however. It is currently funded through June 2025, primarily with federal COVID emergency funds.