FCC Begins Process for 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention Hotline
Thursday, December 12, 2019 | Comments

The FCC started the process of designating 9-8-8 as a new, nationwide, three-digit number for a suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. This designation will help ease access to crisis services, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health conditions, and ultimately save lives, the commission said.

The commission proposed that calls made to 9-8-8 would be directed to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of 163 crisis centers that is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Lifeline is available by calling 1-800-273-TALK and through online chats. In 2018, trained Lifeline counselors answered more than 2.2 million calls and more than 100,000 online chats.

The FCC effort began with congressional passage of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018. That statute tasked the FCC, in consultation with SAMHSA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, with examining and reporting on the technical feasibility of designating a shorter number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

The FCC will begin taking public comment on the proposal following publication in the Federal Register.

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