FCC’s decision for 3-digit suicide prevention hotline draws approval from groups

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to move ahead with a national, three-digit suicide prevention hotline is drawing approval from groups around the country.

“If we can get more people help, lives will be saved,” Leslie Young, area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told FOX40.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and while millions of dollars are spent in preventing and curing diseases with lesser consequences, more attention to suicide prevention can yield provable results.

“It’s completely preventable,” Young said. “Completely preventable.”

That’s why the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention pushed for a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline.

Often, pleas for help go to 911 dispatchers who aren’t always trained to handle them or often relay the call, causing delays.

Those calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline get connected in an average of seven seconds. Often those specializing in vulnerable populations like veterans, or young people in the LGBTQ community are available.

But studies show that the brain function of those in crisis is impaired.

“The chances of you remembering 1-800-273-TALK. What’s the 't'? What's the 'a'? Versus if you could dial 988 and connected directly,” Young said.

In addition, some seeking help try going to a health care provider or mental health provider, which can lead to delays and frustration.

“That time, the extra time could be the time where somebody decides to make the wrong decision, the outcome that we don’t want,” Young told FOX40.

It’s estimated that more than 20 veterans commit suicide every day, and a half a million LGBTQ youths will attempt suicide this year, reason enough to seek improvements in the hotline system.

Several months of public hearings will take place before a national 988 suicide prevention hotline is put in place. It will also require more federal dollars to handle an expected uptick in calls.

To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

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