County of Santa Clara Celebrates One Year with 988 during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September commemorates the successful first year of the new suicide prevention lifeline and highlights opportunities to promote suicide prevention and reduce stigma

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. September 12, 2023— In recognition of September’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) is noting the success of their 988-suicide prevention lifeline and an expansion of services for people in crisis and is encouraging partners and community members to get involved in other suicide prevention activities.

As an integral part of its efforts, BHSD continues to promote use of 988 and the innovative crisis services available to county residents when they call the three-digit lifeline. In its first year the line answered 20,980 calls.

According to recent Mental Health Services Act survey data, the lifeline has become a visible and accessible resource in Santa Clara County. The survey showed that residents identified 988 as a vital asset among BHSD services.

To further bolster crisis services, BHSD recently launched text messaging through 988, available in English and Spanish.

Behavioral Health Services Department Director Sherri Terao stated, “Expanding 988 to include text messaging increases access to these life-saving services. Some folks may feel more comfortable seeking support through a text instead of a call. Now there are even fewer barriers to finding help in a moment of crisis. It’s a huge development and one we want to share with the community during this special month.”

Supervisor Otto Lee stated, “The data shows that we have successfully implemented 988, and the results demonstrate our commitment to providing our residents the help they need when they need it most. We are excited to provide this crucial resource and make 988 operations and improvement a priority.”

The County’s pioneering in-person crisis services, available through 988, continue to meet community needs. The programs – Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT), Mobile Response Stabilization Services (MRSS), Trusted Response Urgent Support Team (TRUST), and In-Home Outreach Team (IHOT) – provide effective, compassionate crisis intervention, and reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary incarceration. Each program is grounded in cultural humility, with staff representing the diverse cultural and language backgrounds found in Santa Clara County communities.  In the first year of 988, the lifeline’s crisis counselors referred 3488 callers to the County’s community mobile response programs.

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg stated, “We aim to offer comprehensive mental health service options to assist residents in the manner they want and need to receive that assistance. We are constantly iterating to ensure continuous improvement of the system – and most of those iterations arise from community members’ input and guidance. Santa Clara County is leading the state on meaningful crisis response services. Our multi-pronged approach to providing crisis support will ensure that the 988 tool will grow more and more effective for individuals, families, and children in Santa Clara County.”

September is widely recognized as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The recognition aims to raise suicide awareness, promote prevention efforts, and reduce stigma. Throughout the month, BHSD’s Suicide Prevention Program and local and national organizations will share events, opportunities, and resources to promote suicide prevention efforts. BHSD and the Suicide Prevention Program encourage everyone to get involved in commemorating the month, with some ideas featured below. Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide:


The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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