Psychiatric detentions rise in first year of 988 hotline

Since the launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, calls, texts, and chats have significantly increased, resulting in more than 4 million total contacts over a ten-month period. However, concerns have arisen that people who contact the service are still being subjected to geolocation tracing of their phone, computer, or mobile device, as well as forced psychiatric treatment. The Lifeline advertised itself as a service that offered confidential discussion about suicidal feelings, but its policy meant that if a call attendant thought a person might be at “imminent risk” of suicide, they would be required to contact 911 or a Public Safety Answering Point to forcibly take the person to a psychiatric hospital. Despite claims that these incidents are rare, data suggests that potential psychiatric hospitalizations are higher than 2%, with nearly 100,000 people annually being taken for coercive treatment at 988 centers.

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