Federal regulators to establish 3-digit suicide hotline number s - FOX34 Lubbock

Federal regulators to establish 3-digit suicide hotline number similar to 911

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The drastic increase in American suicide has led the Federal Communications Commission to set up a new emergency number. The service will be similar to 911.

Last year the National Suicide Prevention Hotline answered more than two million calls. Currently the hotline uses a regular 10-digit number. The FCC is looking for a way to echo the services of 911 when those in crisis need a lifeline. 

"A lot of those emergencies probably stem from some mental health issues. I don't know that they get addressed during a two minute 911 call," Nathan Kizer, Executive Director for the Lubbock 911 Administration, said. 

911 call-takers within our district answer nearly 700 calls a day. Kizer believes this acts as an added resource that's treated just like an emergency, but more specific to meet callers needs. 

"We ask quite a bit of our call-takers these days," he said. "They're often looking at many screens, handling types of calls and fielding all sorts of emergencies. This would be something that's a little more specialized and it might be good to off-load that." 

911, it's a number we all know, but soon there could be a second three-digit number we can rely on. 

"This is just one more step to put that emergency, as it were, into the hands of a trained professional. I think that's the goal of any emergency number," Kizer said. 

The FCC hasn't laid out a timeline when 988 could be implemented. The next step is a comment period before the FCC can move to an order. That will last about two months. If the FCC adopts the rule, providers will have a year and a half to adapt.

 

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