“Three Digits and a 3” to Save Lives in the LGBTQ community

Illustration of a young person sitting in a corner with the accomanying text that reads, "About 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth said anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation led to poor mental health." Source: The Trevor Project

By: Grace Harrison

According to research from the Trevor Project, more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 consider suicide every year. To address this challenge, our crisis services must include appropriate resources for the needs of this community.

In 2022 the three-digit 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was launched, giving people quicker and easier access to potentially life saving help. Shortly after the 988 launch, a new tool for members of the LGBTQ community to reach help was added.

Individuals under the age of 25 can access an LGBTQ trained crisis counselor when they dial 988 and press 3. There is also a text option, sending the word PRIDE to 988. In March 2023 the 988 LGBTQ line became available 24/7.

Previous research from the Trevor Project reveals that LGBTQ youth are over four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to staright individuals, making this separate line vital. Eighty percent of LGBTQ youth said it was crucial to have a crisis lifeline that focuses on their community.

The expansion of 988 to include an LGBTQ service was made possible with the help of the Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit organization. They are the primary service provider of specialized services for the LGBTQ community. Before this expansion was made available, 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the year prior did not have access to it.

From September 2022 through February of this year, approximately 11% of texts and 6% of calls through 988 have been for the LGBTQ line, totalling about 138,000 contacts in four months of the line being available. During the first full year of collaboration, 280,000 contacts were reached through this line.

In California, the Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act (AB 988) was signed into law by Govenor Gavin Newsom in September of 2022. This bill was sponsored by the Steinberg Institute, and established 988 centers throughout California along with sustainable funding.
This law has made it easier for individuals to reach help faster and more efficiently in the state of California.

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