Mar 1, 2024

Hold On

Two years ago, the United States did something amazing. In response to the mental health crisis the federal government launched 988 - a nationwide, easy to remember phone number that anyone can call anytime and talk to a counselor. It was 911 but for mental health and they hoped that it would save lives. However, if you call 988 today the first thing you hear isn’t a sympathetic counselor. What you hear is hold music.

Today, the story of the highest stakes hold music in the universe, the three men who created suicide prevention and the two women trying to fix it. 

Special thanks to Dr. Matt Wray, Sherbert Willows, Dani Bennett & Monica Johnson, Shari Sinwelski & the folks at Didi Hirsch, David Green, Jay Kennedy S. Carey & JagJaguwar Records,  and George Colt for sharing his cassette taped interviews of Ed Shneidman with us.


Reported by - Simon Adler

Produced by - Simon Adler

Fact-checking by - Natalie Middleton

and Edited by  - Pat Walters

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Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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