The Federal Communications Commission will create a three-digit number, 988, to reach a suicide prevention hotline as an alternative to the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, PBS reports.
The FCC voted Thursday to begin the process of establishing the number, which supporters called for to ease access to help for distressed people. Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the past two decades.
"More than 20 veterans die by suicide every day and more than half a million LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide this year alone," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. "A shorter, simpler suicide hotline number could be a game-changer."
The FCC must also prepare additional funding to handle an expected increase in calls, which could total $50 million if the number of calls doubles.
"Three-digit access to crisis services represent a national recognition that seeking help for behavioral health and suicidal crisis is just as much a part of life as seeking help for fire, for injury, or for other health and wellness needs," Dwight Holton, the CEO of suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life, wrote the FCC in a filing.
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