The New National Mental Health Crisis Line Wants to Track Your Location

By L. Harris: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Calling 911 is all too often a death sentence for mad, neurodivergent, mentally ill, and disabled people. While there is no consistent national data collected on police killings of those experiencing a mental health or suicidal crisis, it is estimated that they comprise as much as one third to one half of people killed by cops each year, with disabled Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color in particular danger. With each new tragedy, calls to defund and abolish the police grow and gain in momentum.

There is no question that an alternative to 911 is desperately needed for people in crisis. Mainstream mental health and suicide prevention groups claim that a new, national mental health crisis line is the answer. In October 2020, Trump signed into law the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which designates 988 as the official number for suicidal crisis and other mental health emergencies. The three-digit number will replace 1-800-273-TALK, the current federally-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) number. 988 is slated to go live nationwide in July 2022. 

The 988 bill received significant media coverage when it became law last fall. But there has been little to no critical coverage of a controversial aspect of the national crisis line number: the proposal to include geolocation technology, identical to that of 911. 

Mad and disabled advocates who have experienced mental health crisis intervention, and even some crisis service providers, worry that geolocation would serve to further entrench coercion in mental health and crisis response systems, replicating problematic aspects of 911.

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