FCC moving forward with 3-digit number for Suicide Prevention Hotline

Updated: Aug. 19, 2019 at 4:52 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Suicide rates in the U.S. are at the highest level since World War ll. In response, the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with making it easier for people thinking about suicide to get help.

Much like calling 911 for an emergency, the FCC is moving forward with assigning a three digit number, likely to be 988 to be a direct link to a trained mental-health professionals, with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“Being able to say, ‘Hey, there’s this number now very similar to 911 that we can just give them a call’ is a great step in the right direction,” said Belinda Kock with the Alabama Suicide and Research Coalition.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a network of 163 crisis centers all over the country.

According to the FCC, counselors answered more than 2.2 million phone calls and more than 100,000 online chats in 2018.

“Last year we had 47,000 reported suicides,” said Kock.

Kock believes that the number of suicides could be higher than the reported number, but she is hopeful that more lives may be saved.

“Our number of suicide rates among children have now raised higher than motor vehicle deaths and injuries,” Kock said.

The rates of suicide for people age 10 and older is rising across the United States, according to the CDC.

Veterans and LGBTQ youth are also at high risk.

“As a counselor myself and as a mother, both of my children have the crisis number in their phones and they can just share the contact with their friends, if need be, or anyone they know, which I think is a great idea. We should all have the number in our contacts,” Kock said. “Lets get comfortable saying the word and then lets get comfortable talking about it and how we can prevent this.”

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