Lifeline Effectiveness Study Addendum: Impact of COVID-19 Related Stress

Madelyn Gould, Irving Philips Professor of Epidemiology in Psychiatry at Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

The overall goal of the project is to assess the effectiveness of the telephone crisis intervention for suicidal individuals who call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) number. Outcome indices of effectiveness will be informed by our earlier Lifeline evaluations. Main outcomes will include callers’ perceptions of whether the crisis intervention stopped them from killing themselves and/or kept them safe; and whether the callers’ suicide risk was reduced during the course of the call. This information is especially crucial now in light of Congress's consideration of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019, recommending the designation of a three-digit number (988) to be used as a national suicide prevention hotline. The addendum's goal is to assess to what extent and in what ways COVID-19 has been a source of stress for callers, whether they perceive this stress as a primary reason for their call to the Lifeline, and whether they perceive it as having contributed to their suicidal thoughts. Callers' responses to open-ended questions about barriers to following through with mental health service referrals and with action or safety plans developed during the crisis call will be examined to determine whether these barriers may be related to COVID-19. It is anticipated that approximately 500 individuals who call the Lifeline between April, 2020 and April 2021 will be interviewed.