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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving forward with a proposal to create a three-digit, nationwide suicide prevention and mental health hotline, the agency announced Thursday.
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics submitted a joint report to Congress on Wednesday laying out its recommendation for the new hotline to be designated 988.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he intends to act on the recommendation and move forward with a rulemaking proceeding.
“There is a suicide epidemic in this country, and it is disproportionately affecting at-risk populations, including our Veterans and LGBTQ youth,” Pai said in a statement. “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.”
A year ago, President Trump signed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, a law that directs the FCC to begin creating the new line, similar to a nationwide 311 or 911.
The number for the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
The staff report submitted to Congress Wednesday found that “designating a 3-digit code dedicated solely for the purpose of a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.”
The proposal for a new hotline will be subject to a period of public comment and a final vote among the FCC’s commissioners before it can go into effect.