National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Expands Accessibility
The Federal Communications Commission is now requiring text messages sent to the number 988 to be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, expanding access to the critical 24/7 national hotline, according to Veronica Stracqualursi of CNN.
The implementation of the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline comes as suicide continues to grow as a public health concern in the United States, with risk factors compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide rates have risen nationwide over the past 20 years and have disproportionally affected certain parts of the population.
The new texting option will expand support for at-risk communities, including youth and young adults, marginalized and underserved populations, and individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities. It will also help individuals who need to access the hotline in a more confidential manner.
“The bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter if you make a voice call or send a text message because we should connect people in crisis to the resources they need no matter how they communicate,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said during an open meeting.
Both texts and calls to 988 will need to be implemented by July 16, 2022, by all service providers, Stracqualursi reported.
Anyone in need can text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741) or may access an online chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Callers can also reach the hotline by dialing the 10-digit number: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). There is a separate Veterans Crisis Line that people can reach at (800)273-8255 and will be able to reach through 988.
In addition to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Connecticut has a variety of resources available through the state’s Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. These include (but are not limited to):
- The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill – Connecticut (NAMI of CT)
- “NAMI of CT is a statewide organization for the families and friends of persons who have a psychiatric disability. Its activities include support, education and information, and advocacy,” (CT DMHAS).
- The Connecticut Mental Health Association
- “The Connecticut Mental Health Association is dedicated to the promotion of mental health, prevention of mental illness, and improved care and treatment of persons with mental illness,” (CT DMHAS).
- Various external sites, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPAN), Parents of Suicides, Survivors of Suicide, and more.
At a local level, NAMI of Manchester provides a variety of mental health resources available to the public. NAMI, which stands for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, is “the largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”
For more information on the Manchester chapter of NAMI, please reach out via email or visit their Facebook page.
For continued awareness, Suicide Prevention Month is recognized in September of each year. Suicide Prevention Month is an annual campaign that seeks to normalize conversations about suicide and ensure that the public has equitable access to mental health resources. Follow along at Better Manchester’s Perspectives in Righting section next September for the commemoration of Suicide Prevention Month.
This article was written by Better Manchester Staff Writers Estefany Alvarez and James Costa.