WASHINGTON D.C. — The FCC proposed to begin the rulemaking process of establishing a new, nationwide suicide prevention and mental health hotline.
The new number, 9-8-8, would shorten the current number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
The Commission will vote on the proposal at a public meeting on Dec. 12.
Congressman Tim Ryan is a cosponsor of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which officially makes a law to designate 9-8-8 for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
“In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide while there were nearly 1.4 million suicide attempts. These rates are at the highest levels since World War II. This should alarm every single one of us,” said Congressman Ryan.
The FCC’s proposal would designate the three digit code as the national code for the hotline.
It would also require that all phone companies transmit all calls to 9-8-8 to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
The Lifeline is a national network of 163 crisis centers that are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Calls to the Lifeline are routed from anywhere in the U.S. to the closest certified crisis center.
In 2018, trained Lifeline counselors answered over 2 million calls and over 100,000 online chats.
“The federal government has a responsibility to ensure Americans across the country have the resources and ability to seek help. And this three-digit hotline will help save countless of lives. As proven with 9-1-1, a three-digit number is easier to remember and quicker to dial. While we still have more work to do in providing mental health treatment for every American, I want thank the FCC for introducing this life-saving proposal and moving us in the right direction.”
If the proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted by a vote of the full Commission at its Dec. 12 meeting, the commission will begin taking public comment on the proposal.
Following review of that public record, the commission will decide how to proceed with final rules to formally designate 9-8-8 as the nationwide phone number for suicide prevention and mental health support.