The FCC hopes that an easy-to-remember phone number will make it easier for people in need to get help
The FCC hopes that an easy-to-remember phone number will make it easier for people in need to get help.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved moving forward in designating 988 as a new national phone number as a suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, said via Twitter on Dec. 11 that “suicide is an epidemic in the United States.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. In 2017, 47,173. Americans died by suicide and there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts.
“This is heartbreaking and alarming but we can do something about it,” Pai said in a statement.
He cited a recent report from the FCC that “found that an easy-to-remember three-digit nationwide phone number would make it easier for those in crisis to connect to the support they need.”
The FCC is now gathering public input on the matter and hopes to make 988 the national number for suicide prevention in the near future.
The number would be directed to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network with 163 crisis centers that is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Our hearts go out to those who are struggling and we hope to move as quickly as we can in order to help them get the help they need and deserve,” Pai added.
Suicide prevention and mental health crisis services are currently available at the phone number 1 (800) 273-Talk and via online chats.