Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is often called a public health emergency.
Some good news: federal regulators have just announced that 988 – the impending new dedicated three-digit number for America’s Suicide Prevention hotline: “will soon make seeking emergency mental health help more like calling 911”. And in addition to this, it also helps to de-stigmatize the countless individuals who are victims of the growing mental health epidemic.
Keeping Mental Health at the Forefront
Once the current months-long process comes to a close, the 800-273-TALK (8255), 10-digit number, which diverts callers to: “one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year,” will cease, and whenever there is a mental health emergency, residents in the U.S. will be able to dial 988, and receive the attention which 911 callers are given when they need first-responders for other emergencies.
Public health Experts say Suicide Preventable
The Chief Executive Officer of the suicide prevention non-profit, Lines for Life, Dwight Holton, noted: “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis. No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency. It’s not a hotline, it’s a ‘warmline’: It gives mental health help before a crisis heats up.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a release stating that: “Formal rule-making on the 988 number has begun — it’s a process that started with a congressional statute in 2018 and was the subject of an FCC report released in August 2019” . Thus far, all providers of telephone services in the US, have been given a period of 18 months to accommodate the new 988 Suicide Prevention hotline number. A comment period on the hotline’s set up will follow, and this will incorporate the estimated time frame for the initiative.
Last year, an investigation conducted by USA TODAY, included a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated that over: “47,000 Americans killed themselves in 2017” ; and that post 1999, the rate of suicide has shot up by 33%. Indeed, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s director, John Draper, remarked: “There’s been so much more put into every one of those causes of death than suicide. … If you didn’t do anything for heart disease and you didn’t do anything for cancer, then you’d see those rates rise, too” .
Do You Know the Warning Signs For Suicide?
Here are the main ones:
- Someone saying they want to kill themselves or die
- Someone searching online and elsewhere for ways to commit suicide
- Having no reason to carry on living
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Someone saying they feel trapped
- Feeling like a burden to other people
- Upping the use of drugs and/or alcohol
- Feeling agitated or being very anxious
- Reckless behavior