cALL 800-273-8255 or
text "sos" to 741741
FCC Vote July 16, 2020
FCC Vote July 16, 2020
If adopted, would require all telecommunications carriers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers to begin directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and complete that transition within the next two years, by July 16, 2022.
Rejects a call from phone providers for a longer transition period while acknowledges the real challenges of such a nationwide effort including the need for widespread network changes and providing time for Congress, other federal agencies, and local call centers to prepare for the expected increase in the volume of calls
Stresses that, during the two-year
transition period, Americans in crisis should continue to
contact the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK and through
prevention hotline to have three-digit number for mental
health emergencies: 988
When the months-long process is completed, U.S. residents will be able to call 988 for help in a mental health emergency, just as 911 connects people in need to first-responders for other emergencies.
Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). That number routes callers to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.
The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis, said Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency." (Editor: It's not about embarrassment for youth. It's that they just don't talk on the cell phones and they don't call a crisis phone line when they are in crisis. They text. And 988 isn't going to help them. However, there is the Crisis Text Line for them and anyone else who prefers texting to talking. The Crisis Tent Line is there to help anyone at any level of crisis, 24/7, with free, confidential counseling. - Gordon Clay)
It's not a hotline, it's a 'warmline': It gives mental health help before a crisis heats up
A Thursday release from the Federal Communications Commission says formal rule-making on the 988 number has begun it's a process that started with a congressional statute in 2018 and was the subject of an FCC report released in August.
So far, the FCC has only proposed requiring all telephone service providers to accommodate the 988 number within 18 months. The next step is a comment period on the implementation, including the project's time frame.
Last year, a USA TODAY investigation reported that more than 48,000 Americans killed themselves in 2018, citing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 33 percent. (15% in the last five years)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is often called a public health emergency.
"Theres been so much more put into every one of those causes of death than suicide. ... If you didnt do anything for heart disease and you didnt do anything for cancer, then you'd see those rates rise, too." John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, told USA TODAY last year.
Public health experts say suicide is preventable.
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7,
confidential support via text message to people in crisis
when they dial 741741. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis manager Claudee Garnett talks to a suicidal client who called Línea PAS, a state-run suicide prevention hotline in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The client called after taking too many Xanax. Suicide rates have gone up since Hurricane Maria hit the island.
For every person who dies by suicide, 280 people think seriously about it but dont act, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
There's not one answer to what makes someone move from thinking about suicide to planning or attempting it, but experts say feeling connected to other people can help.
"Reaching out ... can save a life," said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, a clinical psychologist and vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "Everybody can play a role.
Tip 1. If someone seems different, don't ignore it
The most important thing you can do is look for a change in someone's behavior that suggests they are struggling, said April Foreman, a licensed psychologist who serves on the American Association of Suicidology's board of directors. It could look like a friend who would always pick up your calls but now seems to be avoiding you. Or a family member who was an adventurous eater now barely eating or skipping meals.
"Trust your gut," Foreman says. "If youre worried, believe your worry."
Foreman notes changes in behavior are some of the most telling indicators, but it's also important to look for specific warning signs:
Tip 2. Don't be afraid to ask. Then act
The most important thing you can do if you think someone may be suicidal is to ask. It may be hard, but it works. Don't buy into the disproven idea that there's nothing you can do to help, or that bringing up suicide might do more harm than good.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have identified these five steps to help reduce deaths:
Ask: In a private setting, ask the person you're worried about directly if they're thinking about suicide. Studies have shown that it does not "plant the idea" in someone who is not suicidal but rather reduces risk. It lets the person know you're open to talking, that there's no shame in what the person may be feeling. If a person tells you they're thinking about suicide, actively listen. Don't act shocked. Don't minimize their feelings. Don't debate the value of life itself. Focus on their reasons for living. You could ask questions such as, "What's kept you safe up to this point?" or "What stops you from killing yourself?"
Keep them safe: Determine the extent of the person's suicidal thoughts.
"We want to know, are you thinking about killing yourself? Do you have a plan? What were you thinking of doing? Do you have the materials to do that? Have you gathered those things? Where are they? What could I do to help you stay around until this passes?" Harkavy-Freidman said.
If a person does have a plan, it's important to take action to remove the lethal means. (Guns were used in 23,000 of the 45,000 deaths by suicide in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Be there: If someone tells you they're thinking about suicide, continue to support them. Ask them to coffee. Give them a call. Some people will eventually stop having suicidal thoughts and feelings, others will continue to struggle throughout their lives.
Deena Nyer Mendlowitz, 40, of Cleveland, is a suicide attempt survivor who has had chronic thoughts of suicide since she was 8. Mendlowitz said one of the moments she felt most supported was when she was going through electroconvulsive therapy and a friend brought her a meal.
"I just felt like I had a regular disease at that point, because they were doing an action they would have done for a friend who was going through anything else," she said. "And I thought, somebody cares about me in the regular way they care about people."
Help them connect: Encourage them to seek additional support. That could mean calling the Suicide Lifeline (800-273-8255), suggesting they see a mental health professional or helping them connect with a support group.
Jennifer Sullivan, a 21-year-old college student at Worcester State University in Massachusetts, struggled with suicidal ideation as an adolescent. It grew worse after she was raped twice, she said. Joining a sexual assault support group made her feel less alone.
"I met a fantastic group of young ladies," she said. "One became one of my best friends. When I had feelings of wanting to die or cut, I would tell her I was having a bad day."
Follow up: Keep checking in. Call them, text them. Ask if there's anything more you can do to help.
Tip 3. Pay special attention when someone is going through a difficult time
You can check in on people based on what you know about them, said John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
"All those warning signs that weve listed for what makes a person look suicidal are fairly generic and hard for us to be able to spot unless youre a diagnostician," Draper said. "However, you know when a person is having relationship problems or going through a divorce you know when somebody has serious financial loss. ... These are very human recognizable signs that people could be needing help."
While experts caution that suicide is never the result of a single cause (bullying, a breakup, job loss), when those events are combined with other health, social and environmental factors they can heighten risk.
Tip 4. If someone makes an attempt and survives, continue to be there
One of the risk factors for suicide is a prior attempt. Studies show that suicide survivors often experience discrimination and shame and may struggle to talk about their feelings because they are worried people will judge or avoid them.
"When I started publicly speaking about my experience ... people would treat me differently," said Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Bauman, a suicide survivor in the Army National Guard. "Somebody, if he was my friend and we laughed and joked the day before, now suddenly doesnt know how to approach and talk to me."
If someone you know is a suicide survivor, the Suicide Lifeline says:
Tip 5. You dont need to have all the answers
It's important to encourage someone who is having suicidal thoughts to call the Lifeline (800-273-8255), find a support group or reach out to a therapist, particularly one who specializes in evidence-based suicide prevention techniques such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Suicide Prevention.
Resources to get help
Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text SOS to 741741.
For people who identify as LGBTQ, if you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, you can also contact The Trevor Project's TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386.
The Military/Veterans Crisis Line, online chat, and text-messaging service are free to all service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve and veterans, even if you are not registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA health care. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
Stories of hope:
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