Joining 911 For Emergencies, 988 Will Be The Number To Reach Suicide Prevention
By Alexa Heah, 19 Nov 2021
Image ID 37855332 © via Diego Vito Cervo | Dreamstime.com
Starting next summer, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the go-ahead for a new three-digit code that will enable those in need to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by text or phone call.
The commission, in a unanimous vote, decided to improve access to the Lifeline by allowing individuals to send a text message, in hopes more people will reach out to the new, shorter number via a smartphone or computer.
According to Digital Trends, FCC Chair Jessica Rosnworcel noted on Twitter that each day, the Lifeline receives nearly 6,000 calls from Americans—or one call every 15 seconds. The new text service could help shorten the wait on the phone, and allow those with disabilities or aren’t comfortable speaking to seek assistance.
“Quick and easy access to mental health and crisis counseling services is critical. In 2020, 44,834 individuals died by suicide in the United States, and evidence suggests the toll of the global pandemic has only increased the strain on many Americans’ mental health and wellbeing,” said the FCC.
“Suicide significantly impacts at-risk communities, including youth, the Black community, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and people who have speech disabilities that affect communication,” it continued.
“For individuals in crisis, text messaging can make it easier to contact a crisis counselor by allowing for a certain level of anonymity rather than engaging in a phone conversation.”
The 988 service will go live for phone calls and text on July 16, 2022. Till then, those who are seeking help should dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or make use of the web-based chat service.
[via Digital Trends, cover image via Diego Vito Cervo | Dreamstime.com]
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