Suicide Prevention: Arizona breweries team up to raise awareness with '988' beer

September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, and in a powerful display of solidarity, breweries nationwide are joining forces for a good cause.

Those taking part, including some in Arizona, will name a special beer ‘988’ in honor of the new number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which was launched in 2022.

The goal is to spark conversations and promote awareness of the ‘988’ number, and it comes as calls to the hotline are higher than ever.

"Design what represents your brewery, and the only thing that matters to us is spreading awareness of the number, so put the number on it, and that’s all we ask," said Josh Goodstein with O.H.S.O. Brewery.

Folks at O.H.S.O. Brewery decided to make a change, so they launched the idea of naming a beer ‘988’ in honor of the three-digit National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline phone number. Their idea has now spread to 29 states.

"Literally coast to coast, and every time we get an email update with somebody else signing up for the project, it's something that I like. My heart melts for a second every time," said Goodstein.

For a limited time, breweries nationwide will sell their own versions of the ‘988’ beer to help raise awareness.

"Everyone gets to put their own beer in it, which is exciting," said Adam Wojcik, Brewery Director with the PHX Beer Co. "Makes it very simple for the breweries to participate."

With PHX Beer Co., a portion of all the proceeds will go towards 988.

"So, we are launching it actually on Monday, which is exciting, and when it’s gone, it’s gone," said Wojcik. "A lot of mango, peach. Very light and delicious."

What is 988?

The Federal government launched 988 as an easy way to remember the crisis line.

"People should call if they are having thoughts of suicide, absolutely. They should call if there is a mental health crisis, like, maybe a bipolar episode, or just a family member doesn’t know who to turn to get somebody help," said Eric Lee with Solari, a Tempe-based organizartion that operates 988 for Arizona.

Lee says the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as inflation, have taken a toll on people's mental health. In addition, the growing knowledge of 988 has also increased calls.

In the last year, Solari has received around 65,000 calls, averaging 5,500 calls a month.

"They are definitely the highest ever," said Lee. "As soon as somebody knows the number is out there, and they feel less anxious about calling or less judged about calling, then they are more likely to pick up the phone and make that call, and when they do so, we’re more likely to save lives."

Read our explainer on 988

Help is available. If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call or text 988. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Support in Spanish is also available. You can also chat with crisis counselors via online chat.

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.