phone suicide hotline
[photo via UnSplash]

The government is looking to make reaching the National Suicide Prevention Hotline a bit easier for those who need it. 

The Federal Communications Commission has announced they plan to establish a three-digit number for the hotline that is backed by the federal government. 

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made the announcement on Thursday, saying that number will likely be 9-8-8. The current number is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). 

“There is a suicide epidemic in this country, and it is disproportionately affecting at-risk populations, including our Veterans and LGBTQ youth,” Pai said in a statement. “Crisis call centers have been shown to save lives. This report recommends using a three-digit number to make it easier to access the critical suicide prevention and mental health services these call centers provide.”

The FCC also released a report about telecommunications, health and veterans policy that studied options for the dialing code. It explains why the hotline needs a separate emergency number different than 9-1-1. 

“For example, calls to 911 average 2 minutes or less, and 911 call-takers focus on identifying the nature of the emergency and the caller’s location to enable prompt dispatch of appropriate emergency response. Thus, the 911 system is not well-suited to provide suicide prevention counseling or to respond to calls that can be handled through conversation with a trained mental health professional rather than dispatching first responders,” the report said.

Aside from the number, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a website full of information and ways to get help. You can read more about their efforts and work here

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources and talk to your regular doctor about your symptoms:

What do you think of the move to make the suicide prevention hotline a three-digit number? Sound off in the comments down below!

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