The Federal Communications Commission released a report this month investigating if the Suicide Prevention Lifeline should change from a 1-800 number to a simple three-digit number.
KELOLAND searched through the 138-page report to find some reasons as to why this would benefit the hotline and how many people use the service.
N11-numbers are used throughout the country to access special services. Here’s a list of current numbers and their services:
– 211 Community Information
– 311 Governmental Services
– 411 Local Directory Assistance
– 511 Traffic Information
– 611 Repair Services
– 711 Telecommunications Relay Services
– 811 Underground Utility Information
– 911 Emergency Services
The Helpline Center in South Dakota answers calls to the 1-800 number the Suicide Prevention Lifeline currently uses. Betsy Schuster is the vice-president of program development; she says shortening the number would be easier for people seeking help.
“We’re in support of that. We want to make sure that when people are in a crisis they can have easy access and we know a three-digit number is a lot easier to remember than a ten-digit number,” Schuster said.
According to the FCC, in 2018 the Suicide Prevention Lifeline answered a total of 2,205,487 calls and 102,640 chats. They also say that the Lifeline is one of the only immediately available resources for a suicidal person.
Whereas most of the findings indicate that changing the number from 1-800-273-8255 to 988 would be positive, one of the downfalls is how much it would cost to change to a non-N11 number. The FCC shows that the total cost to the service provider community is $92,536,416. (The breakdown can be found on page 102 in the report)
With or without a number change on the national level, the local 211 Helpline will still answer your calls and help you to the best of their abilities.
“Since we answer 2-1-1, and then we answer suicide crisis as well, if someone calls 2-1-1 and they’re in a suicide crisis, we’re able to help them just the same as someone calls the ten-digit number, and I think that’s the important piece. We are here 24/7 so however you reach us, whether it’s 2-1-1, whether it’s 1-800-273-8255, or whether it will be this new three-digit number down the road, we are here 24/7. And that’s what we want to make sure to advocate,” Schuster said.