Half of the country has seen a more than 30 percent uptick in suicides over the past 20 years, according to the CDC.
That’s why the U.S. government wants to make the national crisis hotline easier to reach.
Currently, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-TALK (8255).
However, the FCC chairman recently said that he will begin the process to make that a three-digit number.
Callers would dial 988 to seek help.
The manager at Minot Central Dispatch, Barb McPeak, said this would be a really good option for callers and a relief for dispatchers.
She said calls regarding suicides come in now more than ever, and dispatchers ARE trained to handle these sorts of calls, but their job is to send the appropriate resources like fire, police, or ambulance.
In the case of potential suicide, the next, closest resource is the National Suicide Lifeline, but dispatchers often choose not to lose contact with an at-risk caller.
“If we had something for suicide prevention, if we could get the people to understand that that’s a number they need to know as well, it would just spread out those resources to the people so they get the right person and they’re not frustrated by being transferred to another line or transferred to another person,” McPeak said.
Last year, counselors for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline answered more than 2 million calls.
The three-digit, easier-to-reach line could lead to more calls, which would require more funding.
For example, if the number of calls to the hotline doubled, centers would need an extra 50 million dollars a year to make it all possible.
Funding currently comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.