When someone is in danger of hurting themselves, they need to talk to another person and they need them now, not tomorrow or later…NOW. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has served to do just that – to be there for people by talking them through crisis when they need it most.
Currently, the number for the hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). To make it even easier for people to remember they have someone to reach out to when they are considering harming themselves, a new number – 988 – will soon make calling the hotline even simpler for anyone who needs it.
The National Suicide Hotline
The suicide hotline was set up in 2005 and is a free service that takes 2.2 million calls every year. With trained mental health professionals serving at over 150 call centers, there is always someone available to walk another through the dark moments. However, the number can be difficult to remember, unlike the nation-wide emergency number, 911, that every adult and child in America are trained to call when help is needed.
The New Bill For the 988 Suicide Hotline
Concerned about suicide and the lives it affects, Congress commissioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to study the issue of suicide and how we can better prevent people from taking their own lives. Just days later, this new bill was introduced to the chamber as bill number S. 2661 by Senator Cory Gardner a republican from Colorado. (The same bill is in the House as H.R. 4194, sponsored by Representative Chris Stewart, a Republican in Utah.) Known as the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, it’s a bipartisan bill that would change the phone number to 988 nationwide for suicidal counseling.
After attracting both republican and democratic cosponsors, the bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is waiting to be voted on in the House and Senate. With so much support on both sides of the aisle, it is very likely this bill will be put into law in the not-so-distant future and people will have an easier to remember when they need somewhere to turn. Once the bill has passed both chambers and is signed into law by the President, phone carriers will have one year to make the number available on all lines.
It is the hope of lawmakers and community groups that by making the National Suicide Hotline number easier to remember, it will be even more accessible for anyone in need. With suicide such a prevalent issue for people such as the LGBTQ community, veterans, and youth, among others, bringing help to them in the form of an easy to remember number mirroring the one for first responders will surely save additional priceless lives.
While we wait for the law to pass and the new number to take effect, the current number will remain in operation: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). With trained professionals standing by to be there for people who need a shoulder to lean on, the line is open 24 hours a day. For those who don’t like to talk on the phone and prefer to text, you can text “HOME” to 741741 and a crisis worker will immediately text you back. Please share this information with those you think may need it.
While we wait for the bill to become law, the National Suicide Hotline has resources on their website so people can know what to do for friends and family at risk. The hotline also runs the website “Bethe1to” to further help people find the resources they need.
988 is Great News
Having a simple number to call, one so closely related to a number we already know, is great news and will without a doubt save lives by providing a professional resource for help whenever and wherever it’s needed.