Trump Admin Prepares Revamp of Suicide Crisis Hotline – By Charles Fain Lehman (Free Beacon) / June 26 2020
FCC hopes new three-digit number will curb suicide crisis
Administration leaders are moving to curb the nation’s exploding suicide crisis through a new, three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai expects to designate 988 as a special code to connect people quickly and easily to the lifeline, he told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview—a response to the two-decade surge in suicide deaths that Pai called “stunning” and “epidemic.”
The change will be voted on by the full FCC at its July 16 open meeting and is expected to pass unanimously, one FCC staffer told the Free Beacon. The new code will easily direct callers to the 10-digit line currently operated by a network of publicly funded crisis centers that provide immediate counseling, mental health referrals, and emergency services to people contemplating suicide.
A suicide hotline short code, under consideration for two years, has been widely supported by suicide experts—and has grown increasingly salient as the coronavirus crisis has driven up calls for help. At the same time, those same experts have cautioned that expanded accessibility of the already overtaxed crisis hotline must be paired with more funding—Dr. Bart Andrews, a board member at the American Association of Suicidology, told the Free Beacon that current funding levels are “completely insufficient to meet the need that 988 will create.”
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