FCC Does Something Right: Proposes Making Suicide Prevention Hotline A Three Digit Number
from the good-for-them dept
We give FCC chair Ajit Pai a lot of grief (to be fair: we’ve given basically every FCC chair a lot of grief over the years). However, when he does something right we should give him credit. And he’s now embraced a plan to give the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline its own 3 digit number, likely to be 988. This is one of those simple plans that just makes sense. Thankfully, there’s been a lot greater awareness over the past few years concerning the hotline and suicide prevention in general — but you still need to remember the phone number. Most people don’t (it’s 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), in case you don’t know). Moving it to a simple three digit number is a good idea that should save lives.
The FCC staff studied several options for the dialing code before going forward with proposing the 9-8-8 number, including repurposing of some of the existing three-digit codes that end with 1-1. The report also explains why directing suicide hotline calls through the existing 9-1-1 infrastructure could be unworkable.
?For example, calls to 911 average 2 minutes or less, and 911 call-takers focus on identifying the nature of the emergency and the caller?s location to enable prompt dispatch of appropriate emergency response. Thus, the 911 system is not well-suited to provide suicide prevention counseling or to respond to calls that can be handled through conversation with a trained mental health professional rather than dispatching first responders,? the report said.
Kudos to Pai and the FCC for moving forward on this.