More than 3,700 calls from Kentucky to the 988 suicide-and-crisis lifeline have been routed to the Veterans Crisis LIne

By Lisa Autry
WKU Public Radio

More than 16,000 Kentucky veterans struggling with their mental health have used the national 988 hotline since it launched two years ago.

The suicide and crisis lifeline doesn’t require callers to disclose personal information, but veterans’ overall use can be tracked because callers can be directed to the Veterans Crisis Line. In Kentucky, more than 3,700 calls have been routed to the veterans line so far this year, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

In a recent speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars state convention in Bowling Green, Gov. Andy Beshear urged veterans to seek help.

“We see an epidemic of suicide among our veterans and even our active service members that is unacceptable,” Beshear said. “It’s important we have all of the services to make that individual whole at the ready.”

Since the 988 line was launched in July 2022, more than 80,000 calls have been received from residents of Kentucky.

The line connects those in distress to trained counselors 24 hours a day, via calls, chats or text messages. Thirteen of Kentucky’s 14 regional mental health centers serve as call centers, and the 14th is in the process of becoming nationally certified. That means 988 calls in all 120 counties can be served by a local center instead of the call being answered out of state.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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