On August 15, 2019, Niels Lesniewski – Senior Staff Writer for Senate in the CQ Roll Call – reveals on Twitter that the suicide prevention hotline should soon be easier to call with a three-digit number.
What We Know:
- Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, and his staff are pushing to have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, currently 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), changed to a three-digit phone number. Hopefully this will make it more accessible to the public.
- Pai acknowledges the scary reality of the prevalence of suicide in our society today. “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.”
- They hope to make this dialing code 9-8-8. It was thought that having a different code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline would be more effective than using 9-1-1 as a multipurpose code.
- The FCC staff studied several options for the dialing code before going forward with proposing the 9-8-8 number, including repurposing of some of the existing three-digit codes that end with 1-1. The report also explains why directing suicide hotline calls through the existing 9-1-1 infrastructure could be unworkable.
- According to AltPress, “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.”
It should soon be easier to call a suicide prevention hotline as FCC plans to move forward with establishing a three-digit number https://t.co/XrYIUBjroI
— Roll Call (@rollcall) August 15, 2019
- Orrin G. Hatch, the president pro tempore of the Senate, has made statements on this as well. After the 2018 suicides of Anthony Bourdain, celebrity television chef, and designer Kate Spade, Hatch pushed the Senate to start making a change with how our country deals with suicide. “I believe that by making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most”.
We hope that this push for mental health awareness and a step towards accessibility will save more struggling people in the future.