American Federal Communicationsy (Ajit Pai), chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, hopes the new 988 suicide-prevention number will be the first consideration in the American mental health crisis, like the easily remembered 911 emergency number.And he wanted it to save lives. That's why he and his colleagues at the FCC have been pushing for the adoption of a new three digit number that will link directly to the national suicide prevention hotline. All members of the Federal Communications Commission are expected to vote on July 16 on the final rules to implement the new numbers.
Today, the suicide prevention hotline is accessible through 1-800-273-8255 (talk). Once the rules are passed next month, telephone providers will switch to three digit numbers by July 16, 2022. The 1-800 number will continue to work until the transition to 988 is completed. In an interview with CNET, Ajit PAYE said he hoped that having a designated three digit number would help trigger a national dialogue on mental health.
Suicide prevention experts agree that the three digit figure will be a breakthrough in guiding people to seek help they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, suicide rates have risen across the United States over the past 20 years. Experts also warned that the United States may be heading for a mental health crisis as Americans report high levels of emotional distress due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, the mental health care system in the United States has been under pressure during the pandemic, which means that there may be more people who need help.