New 3 Digit Suicide Prevention Emergency Hotline

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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” [1]. 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.

Grim Statistics

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
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Shirley Amy is a Holistic Health Specialist and professional writer who’s published 4 books. Her  interests include optimum wellness, mental health, fitness, and positive lifestyle change. She holds University and College qualifications in the fields of Health Science, Nutrition, Mental Health, Fitness, Holistic Therapy and Aromatherapy.
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