New three digit hotline could save lives

The Federal Communications Commission has approved the proposal for a 3 digit number to connect to suicide prevention centers.

Posted: Dec 13, 2019 4:25 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2019 6:06 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- It's as easy as dialing three numbers on your phone. 988, that number will soon be a direct line to suicide crisis centers across the country.

Just a few years ago Christina Crist lost her 15-year-old daughter to suicide She said with her death they have found no clear cut evidence that this was something she was thinking about. Crist said she believes if there wasn't such a stigma on mental health and suicide prevention back then her daughter may still be alive.

"Suicide is the most preventable death there is," Crist said.

The Federal Communications Commission or FCC has approved a proposal for the number 988 to be an emergency line for help with mental health emergencies.

They say the three-digit number, like 911 could help break the stigma and save lives.

"Those individuals that are holding a gun and saying I'm done and they might have a moment of clarity they just might and they're probably more apt to dial 988," Crist said.

Officials at the Hamilton Center in Terre Haute said this is going to change the way people ask for help.

"At this point, we don't have to stop and look up the local phone number for an ambulance or for our police or our sheriff. We just simply call 911," Missy Burton, the Clinical Supervisor for Child and Adolescent Services at the Hamilton center said. "So, when we're in a mental health emergency having to stop and look up a number could make the difference in someone's life being saved or not." 

We don't know when this service will start.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide there are still many ways you can get help.
Locally, we have resources like the Hamilton Center. Their emergency 24-hour phone line is 800-742-0787.

Or, you can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which's 1-800-273-TALK.

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