RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nearly a year and a half after its launch, North Carolina is just shy of 100,000 calls made to the 988 Suicide and Crisis lifeline.
"It stands out that so many people are calling for help," NCDHHS Division of Mental Health Director Kelly Crosbie said.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline connects North Carolinians via call, chat, or text to a trained crisis counselor who will listen, offer support, and provide community resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On Monday, NCDHHS launched a performance dashboard that highlights how the hotline is being used, from the call volume to the time it takes for people to get connected with mental health resources.
The call is confidential, but Crosbie said the information can be collected if the caller is willing to share.
Of the more than 90,000 calls, a large volume is made up of young people, according to the dashboard.
"It's alarming but also encouraging," Crosbie said. "Unfortunately, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 13 to 35 and that's far too high."
Though Crosbie said they're glad to reach specific demographics, including LGBTQ+ youth that was added in July, it's sobering to see so many young people reach out.
"They are definitely the largest users of the text and chat functions," Crosbie said. "One of the most biggest takeaways ... is the number of folks who are calling just because they don't know where else to turn."
More than 500 callers identified as LGBTQ+ in October, according to the dashboard.
For Freddy Perkins, the hotline is just one of many lifesaving tools used to address the growing mental health crisis.
"In addition to something like a hotline ... if the kids don't talk directly to us, they've gotten to a point where they are comfortable enough to speak with us in the space," Perkins said.
Perkins is the co-program director at LGBTQ Youth Center in Durham, where he said they see an average of 15 young people a day.
"We learn and find out a lot about them just through listening and just being present," Perkins said. "I think that gives them a lot of peace and a lot of solace as well."
When it comes to branching out, Crosbie said in addition to reaching veterans and the Spanish-speaking population, they're working on making access easier for older adults and improving their service to one day connect people to providers who can see them the next day.
"People calling this line makes a real difference," Crosbie said. "It saves lives, and we are taking the data that we have very seriously to do better, to build a better system that people can easily access."
If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use, or other mental health crises please call or text the new three-digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 (TALK).