(Bloomberg) -- Americans will be able to text 988 to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a move seeking to broaden support for at-risk communities, such as youth and people with disabilities.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the move Thursday, the agency said in a statement. In 2020, almost 46,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide, provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, as the pandemic weighed on mental health.
“Quick and easy access to mental health and crisis counseling services is critical,” the FCC said in its statement. “For individuals in crisis, text messaging can make it easier to contact a crisis counselor by allowing for a certain level of anonymity rather than engaging in a phone conversation.”
The action requires texting providers to route messages sent to 988 to the Lifeline’s number by July 16, 2022. During the transition, the FCC recommends continuing to contact the network by dialing 1-800-273-8255.
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