In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo, a man uses a cell phone in New Orleans. With suicides on the rise, the government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach. Once implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help. Currently, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Gov't wants a new 911-like number just for suicide hotline

August 15, 2019 - 12:13 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — With suicides on the rise , the U.S. government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach.

Once implemented, people will just need to dial 988 to seek help. Currently, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers are routed to one of 163 crisis centers, where counselors answered 2.2 million calls last year.

A law passed last year required the Federal Communications Commission to study assigning a three-digit number for suicide prevention, like 911 for emergencies or 311 for city services. The FCC says in a Wednesday report that there is "overwhelming support" for a three-digit number because it would be easier for distressed people to get help.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he intends to start the process to make that happen.

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