By Tiffini Taylor
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted in July to finalize the number 988 as a suicide hotline to quickly contact counselors, therapists, crisis centers and others trained in therapeutic practices to speak with those who call.
The number is to be set in place within the next two years for a simple and quick form of contact for those who are in suicidal crisis in any way. For Americans, the number 988 can be easy to remember and can be a fast way to connect with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Currently, callers in crisis must use 1-800-273-8255 to reach the lifeline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was established in 2004 so individuals could contact crisis centers for 24/7 care.
A rise in suicides has sparked debate since the lifeline’s inception six years ago on how to make it easier for those who need help to receive it immediately. Instituting the 988 number will be fundamental in helping individuals get the help they need during a suicide crisis.
The number echoes the idea of 911, which the FCC believes will save more lives. Saving more lives means fewer lives taken away by suicide.
Because three digits is easier to remember than 10 digits, this will let more people get the help they need.
Phone companies will be transitioning the three-digit number into implementation over the next two years. The full activation of the 988 number will be available nationwide on July 16, 2022.
The vote comes during a time of turbulence in overall life in America.
The isolation of quarantine, the worry of losing work and the melting pot of systematic racism protests are all contributors to depression and other mental health issues. Suicide has been on the rise over the past few years, this trying time is adding fuel to an already high rate of suicide among teens and young adults.
Although it seems like two years will be a long time, it will go by quickly. If anyone needs to speak to someone or if there is a suicidal crisis do not hesitate to contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-825