Hotline could save even more lives
Kudos to Federal Communications Commission regulators who are setting up a new three-digit number to reach a suicide prevention hotline in order to make it easier for people to seek help and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
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.
That’s 2.2 MILLION calls. Talk about a crisis.
A law last year required the FCC to study assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention and the agency 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.
The next step is a comment period before the FCC moves to an order.
The FCC’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 report noted that from 1999 to 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state except Nevada. We believe a more simple and easier-to-remember three-digit number can help save even more lives.