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FCC Proposes to Expand Access to National Suicide Prevention Hotline (988)

FNPRM Proposes Adding Text Messaging Access to 988

April 23, 2021

To expand the availability of mental health and crisis counseling resources, the Commission previously designated 988 as the 3-digit dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) by telephone.

Today, we take an important step to further increase the effectiveness of the Lifeline by proposing and seeking comment on requiring covered text providers to support text messaging to 988. In 2019, Americans sent an estimated 2.1 trillion text messages. Text messaging is especially popular with groups who are at heightened risk of suicide or mental health crises, including teenagers and young adults and individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, or have speech disabilities. Given the pervasiveness of text messaging, particularly among at-risk groups, we believe it is essential to explore making it as easy as possible to reach the Lifeline by text through use of the same short, easy-to-remember code by which Americans will be able to call the Lifeline.

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