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NPR on 10/19/2020 by Rhitu Chatterjee
President Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill to create a three-digit number for mental health emergencies. The Federal Communications Commission had already picked 988 as the number for this hotline and aims to have it up and running by July 2022. The new law paves the way to make that a reality.
“We are thrilled, because this is a game changer,” says Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
He and other mental health advocates say this will make it easier for more Americans to access mental health care.
The existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 10-digit number — 1-800-273-TALK — and it has seen a rise in call volume in recent years.
Still, the number isn’t easy to remember or dial in times of crisis, says Gebbia. “When you’re in crisis and you’re already emotionally upset, the hardest thing to do is find the number that’s a 10-digit number and call it.”