FCC proposes '988' as new National Suicide Prevention hotline number

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WJRT) (08/19/19) -- The number 988 could soon be the new National Suicide Prevention hotline number. The FCC made the recommendation to Congress August 15.

1-800-273-TALK is the current hotline number. It's long and may not be easy for some people to remember, especially those that are in a crisis. It's why the FCC is pursuing the change to the number.

"There spirit, there thoughts of suicide, whatever's going on, I think it's a good thing," said Tracy Palmer.

Palmer is an anti-bullying advocate in the Genesee County area. Her work entails helping kids and young adults overcome bullying in schools. Suicide is also a topic covered.

"Talking to somebody that we know or love or maybe even trust is actually harder than talking to someone we don't know," she said.

Which is why the suicide prevention hotline has been so successful.
But she thinks there's room for improvement, and 988 is the way to do it.

"You have to think of it as an emergency, just like dialing 911. You have to simplify anything that's difficult."

In 2018, counselors at the National Suicide Prevention hotline answered 2.2 million calls and over 100,000 online chats.

"As a person that's in the community talking about it and being a listening ear and shoulder for those who have been in that dark place, I know this will be a much better way for them to be able to do that."

The FCC Chairman has said the country is in the midst of a suicide epidemic and crisis centers have shown to save lives.

The recommendation has been sent to several house and senate committees.

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