Wisconsinites calling National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now more likely to get answer from Wisconsin-based counselor

Study: Living near gun shops, in rural areas means higher suicide risk

MADISON, Wis. — A new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center is opening in Wisconsin thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Anyone who wants to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline should call 800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are free and confidential. The lifeline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The opening of the new call center means that more Wisconsinites who call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are more likely to speak with a Wisconsin-based counselor when their call is answered.

“No one should ever have to be alone when they feel hopeless,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said. “Adding capacity to handle Wisconsin calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is part of our ongoing effort to ensure the right supports are available at the right time for people in emotional distress. It’s about offering hope and promoting healing. By connecting, listening, and directing help to those who need it, we can reduce pain and save lives.”

The new call center, which is known as the Wisconsin Lifeline, is managed by Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin under a $2 million annual grant.

Any calls from Wisconsin communities not already covered by one of four existing Wisconsin-based call centers will be directed to the Wisconsin Lifeline.

The call center began accepting calls in August. Since then, Wisconsin’s in-state National Suicide Prevention Lifeline answer rate jumped from 30% to 85%. Officials said the state previously topped out at a 30% in-state answer rate because the other four call centers in Wisconsin were overrun by calls from areas outside of their responsibility.

Palm said the Wisconsin Lifeline will put Wisconsin in a good position to handle a surge in calls when 988 becomes the nationwide suicide hotline in July 2022.