‘988’ Approved to Become National Suicide Hotline Number
1-800-273-TALK (8255) is known as the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline but 800-numbers are a little difficult to remember. To make it even easier to connect to someone in a time of need, the hotline will be reduced to only three digits.
In an unanimous decision by the FCC on Thursday, they approved '988' to become the new number for the Suicide Hotline. The old number will still work but this just makes it easier.
All phone carriers will have to make the adjustment to direct '988' to one of the 170 crisis centers available nationwide by July 16, 2022. Until then, people are asked to continue using the current phone number.
FCC's Chairman told CNN they believe this move will end up saving more lives, since it's similar to 911. It also removes the stigma of shamefulness around mental health.
The move comes as suicide continues to rise in America, especially in teenagers. The pandemic has put an even bigger strain on the nation's mental health. According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the numbers are the highest they've been since WWII.
Calls to the hotline more than doubled over a five-year period, from fewer than one million in 2012 to more than two million in 2017, the FCC reported (via CNN).
Vibrant.org says that 90% of people who attempt suicide go on to live their lives. This 3-digit number will make it easy for those struggling to have free access to trained counselors who can help.
The Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis center for LGTBQ youth, commended the FCC on today's decision in a statement.