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988 suicide phone hotline getting $282 million to ease July launch


Two crisis hotlines have been installed at the Rio Grande Bridge.

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Individuals in Crisis those trying to help them will have a new phone number — 988 — to reach the national suicide prevention network starting in July. Federal officials will announce more than $280million Monday to ease the transition from the 10-digit current number to three-digits.

For mental health advocates and lawmakers in Congress, three-digit dialing is a long goal to reach suicide hotline counselors. the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. Biden’s administration stated that it hopes to deliver an on-schedule launch in the summer. Also, the new number 988 will be available. handle text and chat.

“We know that remembering a three-digit number beats a ten-digit number any day, particularly in times of crisis, and I encourage every state to rev up planning to implement 988 for the sake of saving lives,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Experts in mental health hope that this three-digit number will make it easier to assist people who are in distress and may attempt suicide. Once the system is implemented and everyone knows about it, they predict that call center demand will soar.

Calling, texting, and chatting 988 will allow you to connect with trained counselors from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. More than 180 counselors are available at local centres to listen and offer support. They can also connect people with additional services if necessary. Lifeline reports that the new dialing codes will be accessible throughout the country beginning July 16.

Of the $282 million being announced Monday, $177 million will go to bolster and expand the existing crisis network’s operations and telephone infrastructure, including centralized chat and text response, backup capacity and a sub-network for Spanish speakers.

Rest of $105 million will be used to hire staff at local call centres.

More than 47,000 Americans died from suicide in America, making it the 10th most common cause of death. in 2019However, it was dropped to 11th in 2020This is mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic, which killed at least 345,000 Americans and became the nation’s No. 3 killer.

Over 300,000 suicide attempts lead to self-harm injuries that have resulted in people being admitted to hospital emergency departments. The suicide rate has risen steadily in the past 20 years and remains a major cause of death among people starting their teens.

Recent FCC votes unanimously for phone companies to be required to register. support texting to 988 as well. Commissioners stated that people are more likely to use text messaging these days and it should not matter if someone is in distress trying to get help.

To route calls to crisis centres, the national suicide prevention network relies currently on an 8255-digit phone number: 800-273-TALK (8255). The country’s largest cellphone companies, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, already support calling 988, according to the FCC. While the service might be already available in some areas, not all communities have access to it yet.

The lifeline has received more than 20 million calls since its inception in 2005, with nearly 2.4 million last year, according to the network’s website. The current 10-digit number of the lifeline will continue to be accessible even after 988 launches.