The U.S. government wants to support people at risk of suicide.
Right now, there are a few ways to seek help if a U.S. citizen’s considering suicide. Currently, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by pressing 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are then routed to one of 163 crisis centers. But in addition, there are other avenues for LGBTQ people.
With suicide being the 2nd leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24, 40 percent of transgender adults reporting having attempted suicide at least once, and LGB youth being five times more likely to attempt it than their straight peers, LGBTQ youth are especially of concern. Because of that, avenues like the Trevor project exist where you can call 1-866-488-7386 any time of the day or night.
But now, the U.S. government wants to make it even easier for people considering suicide to seek help. There’s a plan developing to make a new 988 number available for connecting to suicide prevention hotlines.
According to EdgeMediaNetwork, a new law passed last year the requires the Federal Communications Commission to study whether assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention would be beneficial to citizens and officials. This new number would work like 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services as a quick way to link citizens with support.
The results found some good and bad to the idea of a three-digit number. Obviously, easier access would be great. After all, anything that makes people having suicidal thoughts more willing to seek help is wonderful. That said, there were some cons to the idea.
With a shorter number, there are bound to be more people calling. While that is initially a good thing, it means there’d be a higher demand for resources and money in crisis centers that are already struggling to keep up. The study and research, which cited info from the federal agency Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which funds the hotline, found that centers would need an extra $50 million a year to handle a doubled increase in phone calls.
Despite that potential problem, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that he will start the motions to pushing for the phone number. That said, the process is long and could take several months, so citizens won’t be able to type 988 into their phones anytime soon.