Improving the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Service through Better Call Routing

Fellows: Tejumade Afonja, Charles Cui, Paula Subías-Beltrán, Irene Tang
Data Science Mentor(s): Kit Rodolfa
Project Manager: Abiola Oyebanjo
Project Partner: Vibrant Emotional Health (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

Each year, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline receives around 2.4 million calls from individuals seeking help with mental health crises being experienced by themselves or people they care about. However, some of these calls have long wait times while they are routed between call centers to find an available counselor, with nearly 20% of calls being abandoned before receiving help. Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the lifeline, has partnered with the DSSG fellowship to explore improvements to their call routing logic that can reduce the number of lifeline calls that fail to reach a counselor. To tackle this problem, our team is building a machine learning system that uses historical call routing and response data to identify which call centers are best equipped to respond to each call and improve the routing logic to reduce wait times and increase call answer rates in an equitable manner.