Kirsten Johnson on how the 988 Wisconsin Lifeline is used

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson describes when daily demand peaks for the state's 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and what types of help people are seeking.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

July 25, 2023

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Kirsten Johnson:
You know, it's 24 hours. So between the hours of, like, 3:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., there's much fewer. The increased hours are really after school, so 4:00 to, like, 8:00 is the peak and then tapers off over the course of the evening. And they have an interesting rotation of schedules. So I think, ideally, they want eight people on site at any time. They're doing a tremendous volume, but it is a 24-hour operation.


Most of them are sort of like, "I'm having anxiety," or, "I'm stressed out at work," or, "I'm having an issue," you know, like, the sort of general stress. Only 1% are truly, like, a crisis. Like, "I have a gun next to me," and they're trained to deescalate, like, "Okay, let's set the gun aside." You know, like, "Can you put it 10 feet away?" "Can you put it five feet away?" "Can you put 10 feet away?" 1% of those calls result in having to have some sort of immediate intervention. But by and large, they're, "Just talk me through this moment." Yeah. The other really interesting thing I wanna name for you that I wanted to sneak in and I didn't get the opportunity is so they have a chat function that they thought they were gonna sunset when they added text, but they found that it's tremendously valuable for school aged kids. So they're at school and they could get on their computer, like, and not necessarily in class, but when they're in study hall or whatever, and chat. And that's been tremendously valuable.

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