FCC To Vote On Whether To Make 988 National Suicide Emergency Number
The Federal Communications Commission will vote in July on whether to install “988” as a national phone number that can be reached by people experiencing suicidal ideation, numerous sources reported.
The hotline is currently 10-digits and the move to shorten the number comes after an advisory from advocates that a shorter number would make it easier for those experiencing a mental health crisis to reach help, according to Tech Crunch.
Experts have also said that switching to a three-digit number would remove stigma from seeking help.
The current number, 800-273-TALK (8255) directs calls to 170 crisis centers and will still be able to be reached after the 988 number is implemented.
Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, said that passing the 988 number would “save lives,” Tech Crunch reported.
BREAKING NEWS: Chairman @AjitPaiFCC just announced his plans to finalize phase in of ‘988’ as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for suicide prevention and mental health hotline. #SuicidePrevention
— The FCC (@FCC) June 23, 2020
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. Between 2007 and 2017, the suicide rate for people between the ages of 10-24 climbed from 6.8 per 100,000 people to 10.6 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The coronavirus pandemic has also put strain on the healthcare system while also possibly exacerbating existing mental health problems due to unemployment and prolonged isolation. (RELATED: Australia Projects More Deaths From Suicides In Lockdown Than From The Virus Itself)