Feds move forward with plan for three-digit suicide prevention hotline

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Federal regulators are setting up a new three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The University of Utah’s Crisis Intervention and Diversion services answers Utahns crisis calls.

Rachel Luckynski with UNI said the center answers more than 100,000 calls every year.

“It’s exciting to think we’re there for so many people, it’s heartbreaking to think that there’s a need to that degree in our state,” Luckynski said.

Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving ahead with plans to designate a three-digit number – 9-8-8 – to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline – which connects Utahns to UNI.

Luckynski said she’s hopeful the new number will help those struggling with suicidal thoughts to have easier access to the help they need.

“Something that the three-digit number will absolutely help by reducing the stigma around mental health and thoughts of suicide and making it so much easier for people to call in times of need,” Luckynski said.

2019 data shows suicides increased by four percent in Utah in the last year – the same as the national average, according to America’s Health Rankings.

Benee Larsen, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah chapter, said she believes the short call line will bring about change.

“It really equalized the importance of mental illness with a regular emergency you would call 9-1-1 for,” Larsen said.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, call 801-587-3000.

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