Phone companies must allow texting new ‘988’ suicide line

Nov 18, 2021, 9:48 AM | Updated: 10:15 am

U.S. communications regulators will require that phone companies allow people to text as well as call a new “988” number for the suicide-prevention hotline.

The Federal Communications Commission last summer voted to require phone companies support the 988 number for people to call to reach an existing suicide-prevention hotline. Recognizing that texting is critical to Americans, particularly young people and those who are deaf, have hearing loss or speech disabilities, the commission on Thursday voted 4-0 to require a texting option as well.

“For millions of us, especially young people and those with disabilities — they are more likely to text than they are to call when they are in crisis,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel during the agency’s meeting Thursday. “The bottom line is it should not matter when you make a voice call or send a text message, because we should connect people in crisis to the resources they need, no matter how they communicate.”

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255), which routes calls to about 170 crisis centers. Phone companies have until July 2022 to implement the 988 number for both calling and texting. The FCC said Thursday that the country’s largest cellphone companies AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon already support calling 988.

Suicide-prevention experts have said that the three-digit hotline could be a breakthrough that helps people in crisis. Suicide rates have largely been going up in the U.S. for the past two decades, although they dropped slightly last year, when nearly 45,000 people died by suicide.

“Texting to 988 is a huge step forward in improving how you address mental health,” said Hannah Wesolowski, director of government relations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Text messaging is a central part of how people communicate and for many individuals the primary way they communicate.”

She said that that demand for the hotline “is going to skyrocket” next year when the 988 system is fully in place and people actually know about it, and that resources are going to have to increase as well so that people’s calls and texts are answered.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities investigating whether the killings of four Muslim men are connected said Sunday that they need help finding a vehicle believed to be connected to the deaths in New Mexico’s largest the city. Albuquerque police said they released photos of the vehicle suspected of being used in the four homicides, hoping […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Report: Dozens got sick after visiting Kansas splash park

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — A new federal study said dozens of people got sick after visiting a splash park near Wichita, Kansas, last summer. The study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 21 people contracted Shigella bacteria and six others became sick with the norovirus after visiting the splash park […]
18 hours ago
A sign marks the water line from 2002 near Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Sat...
Associated Press

More human remains discovered as drought dries Lake Mead

More human remains have been found at drought-stricken Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas, authorities said Sunday.
18 hours ago
Associated Press

North Carolina sheriff stocking schools with AR-15 rifles

MARSHALL, N.C. (AP) — When schools in one North Carolina county reopen later this month, new security measures will include stocking AR-15 rifles for school resource officers to use in the event of an active shooter. Spurred by the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead in May, […]
18 hours ago
Republican Kentucky State Representative Savannah Maddox addresses the audience gathered during the...
Associated Press

Kentucky candidates struggle when describing 2020 election

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republicans came to the state’s premier political event this weekend intent on winning elections in November and beyond, but some candidates aspiring to become governor had a hard time coming to terms with Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020. They gave parsed or tortured responses when asked if Democrat Joe […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Miss America 2018 Cara Mund poses for photographers on the 86th Floor Observation Deck of th...
Associated Press

Former Miss America Cara Mund plans to run for Congress

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Cara Mund, a former Miss America who gained attention by criticizing the organization near the end of her reign in 2018, plans to run for Congress in North Dakota as an independent. Mund announced her candidacy Saturday and said she would start gathering the 1,000 signatures she needs to get on […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Phone companies must allow texting new ‘988’ suicide line