FCC Recommends Designating 988 As The 3-Digit Number For A National Suicide Prevention Hotline

The FCC sent a report to Congress today which recommends that the Commission consider designating 988 as the 3-digit dialing code to be used for a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.  The report finds that such a 3-digit number “would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.” 

 

"There is a suicide epidemic in this country, and it is disproportionately affecting at-risk populations, including our Veterans and LGBTQ youth,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “Crisis call centers have been shown to save lives.  This report recommends using a three-digit number to make it easier to access the critical suicide prevention and mental health services these call centers provide.  I intend to move forward on this recommendation.  In the meantime, my heart goes out to anyone facing a crisis.  I hope they will contact 1-800-273-TALK for support today.

 

Suicide is a horrific and terrifying issue that impacts all individuals throughout the country and the need for support is greater than ever, especially for members of the LGBTQ community.

 

According to the Trevor Project:

 

  • LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.

  • LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.

  • Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGB youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.

  • Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.

  • In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.

  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

  • Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

 

While currently there are many suicide hotline centers spread across the mainland United States, the accessibility of each one is not as simple as it could be. As of August 15th, 2019, the FCC has proposed a 3-digit dialing code "988" as a faster means to contact the suicide prevention hotline centers. As of now, if one desires to contact such centers, they must dial the lengthy code "1-800-273-8255". While such means are certainly helpful in preventing many suicide situations, the simplified code proposed will shorten the lag time between centers and individuals and will allow for faster contact between the two parties. Ideally, this will in turn save more lives. As stated in a report mandated by the National Suicide Improvement Act of 2018, a shorter dialing code “would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.

 

LGBT Tech applauds this action by the FCC and fully supports efforts to implement this 3-digit dialing code which will make it easier for our at-risk community to access critical life-saving resources more quickly. We will continue to work with partner organization and the FCC to ensure the needs of LGBTQ individuals are considered while these changes are made to the National Suicide Hotline.

 

The report was provided on Wednesday to a number of House and Senate Committees, and is available at: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-359095A1.pdf

 

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