Trump signs law designating 9-8-8 as universal number for national suicide hotline starting in 2022
October 17, 2020 at 23:42
(CNN) President Donald Trump on Saturday signed into law a bipartisan bill that will make 9-8-8 the universal telephone number to reach the national suicide prevention hotline starting in 2022.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which passed the House of Representatives last month after approval from the Senate and the Federal Communications Commission, will allow individuals seeking help to dial the three-digit number and be directed to the hotline.
Currently, the hotline is accessible by the 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
The bill authorizes states to collect fees aimed at ensuring local crisis centers will be able to support increased volume, and it also directs government health agencies to submit a report to Congress detailing strategies to improve support services for LGBTQ youth, minorities and individuals in rural counties, who are at higher risk for suicide.
In a report to Congress last year, the Federal Communications Commission estimated that the total costs of implementing a three-digit dial code for the first year would be approximately $570 million and $175 million in the second year, including costs for increased call-center capacity and a public awareness campaign.
But it stressed that the "benefits of this action are quite likely to outweigh the costs."