Congress approves act to shorten number to suicide prevention lifeline

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GREENE Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Federal Communications Commission said over 2.2 million people called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2018.

The number has been known as 1-800-273-8255. Now, it will be shortened due to an act passed by Congress.

One Greene county mother, whose daughter, Erin, died by suicide in 2018, said its change to 9-8-8 can make a life-saving impact.

“She had reached out to chat lines. I didn’t even know those still existed. And she was reaching out to people in Florida, people that she didn’t know. One was a grown man in his 40s and telling them that she had depression and anxiety,” said Terri Neighbors.

Neighbors said while she supports the idea of the new number, she hopes to see another change.

“They haven’t yet included a text portion of that. And I think that’s important to include that because teens, kids, they’re not communicating face-to-face anymore. They’re communicating through social media, through texting, through Snapchat messaging and that’s what my daughter did,” she said.

Neighbors said she’s hopeful the new number will save lives, even one life and one call at a time.

“What I’ve been told by people who have been in that situation, who have had failed attempts at suicide, have told me that when they are there to make that choice, they have tunnel vision. They really can’t speak. And so that’s why I’m really hoping that with the 988 number, they include a text option. I feel like it’s going to be crucial for the teen population,” said Neighbors.

According to the FCC, the number may take months to change.

Public comment is currently open. Then, rules will be created for how the hotline will operate.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide or may need a listening ear, you can still call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

It will connect to one of 163 crisis centers nationwide.

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