Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Regulators to Set up 3-Digit Suicide Hotline Number Like 911
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 years ago on
December 15, 2019

Share

NEW YORK — Federal regulators are setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline in order to make it easier to seek help and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

“The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis. No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.” — Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit
Once it’s implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help, similar to calling 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.
“The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” said Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”
A law last year required the Federal Communications Commission to study assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention. The FCC said in a report that there is overwhelming support for a three-digit number because it would be easier for distressed people to get help.
Thursday’s vote starts the months-long process to make that happen. The next step is a comment period before the FCC moves to an order.
The government’s action comes as suicide rates have increased across the U.S. over the past two decades, and dramatically so — by more than 30% — in half of U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 45,000 deaths in 2016, the latest year for which figures were available. The report noted that from 1999 to 2016, suicide increased in every state except Nevada. It also noted that suicide rates are higher with at-risk populations, including veterans and the LGBTQ community.

The New, Shorter Number Would Likely Lead to More Calls

“More than 20 veterans die by suicide every day and more than half a million LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide this year alone,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “A shorter, simpler suicide hotline number could be a game-changer.”

“More than 20 veterans die by suicide every day and more than half a million LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide this year alone. A shorter, simpler suicide hotline number could be a game-changer.” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
The FCC determined that it would be better to have a new number that’s only for the hotline, rather than one that’s currently used for other purposes, such as 911. Advocates say that having a dedicated number, along with a message that mental health is of equivalent importance as medical emergencies, could help reduce the stigma of calling the number.
The new, shorter number would likely lead to more calls, which in turn would mean more expenses for crisis centers already struggling to keep up. If the number of calls to the hotline doubled, centers would need an extra $50 million a year to handle the increase, the FCC said, citing the federal agency that funds the hotline, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Holton said that while the increase in calls might cost more, it saves money in the long run because more people will be calling 988 instead of 911, which involves sending first responders and costs thousands of dollars.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people making calls because of suicidal thoughts can often be helped just by talking them through it, without needing to send a first responder.
Holton added that having first responders present doesn’t always help people in crisis because they aren’t necessarily trained to deal with mental health issues.
Although 988 won’t be available by text, there are other texting services available. Lines for Life offers a text service by texting 273TALK to 839863.

DON'T MISS

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

DON'T MISS

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

DON'T MISS

LeBron’s Lakers Top Pelicans in Play-in, Set up Playoff Rematch With Nuggets

DON'T MISS

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

DON'T MISS

Mookie Betts Matches Career Best with 5 Hits in Dodgers’ 6-2 Victory Over Nationals

DON'T MISS

Klay Thompson Misses All 10 Shots in Potential Last Game With the Warriors

DON'T MISS

NBA Bans Jontay Porter for Life After Probe Shows He Bet on Games

DON'T MISS

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

DON'T MISS

Southern California City Council Gives Key Approval for Disneyland Expansion Plan

DON'T MISS

Tesla Wants Shareholders to Reinstate CEO Elon Musk’s $56 Billion Pay Package

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

UP NEXT

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

2 hours ago

Mookie Betts Matches Career Best with 5 Hits in Dodgers’ 6-2 Victory Over Nationals

2 hours ago

Klay Thompson Misses All 10 Shots in Potential Last Game With the Warriors

2 hours ago

NBA Bans Jontay Porter for Life After Probe Shows He Bet on Games

2 hours ago

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

3 hours ago

Southern California City Council Gives Key Approval for Disneyland Expansion Plan

3 hours ago

Tesla Wants Shareholders to Reinstate CEO Elon Musk’s $56 Billion Pay Package

3 hours ago

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

3 hours ago

Vital Climate Tool or License to Pollute? The Battle Over CA’s First Carbon Capture Project

3 hours ago

Boeing in the Spotlight as Congress Calls a Whistleblower to Testify About Defects in Planes

3 hours ago

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

Rudy Salas and Adam Gray have lots to brag about with the latest fundraising tallies for congressional candidates. Both are former Democrati...

1 hour ago

1 hour ago

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

1 hour ago

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

1 hour ago

LeBron’s Lakers Top Pelicans in Play-in, Set up Playoff Rematch With Nuggets

2 hours ago

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

2 hours ago

Mookie Betts Matches Career Best with 5 Hits in Dodgers’ 6-2 Victory Over Nationals

2 hours ago

Klay Thompson Misses All 10 Shots in Potential Last Game With the Warriors

2 hours ago

NBA Bans Jontay Porter for Life After Probe Shows He Bet on Games

3 hours ago

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend