It’s time for the world to follow the United States lead and set up a new three-digit number of 988 to be globally recognized as the suicide lifeline.
988 is adopted as the number to call
On July 16th, 2022, the US National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) number became ‘988’. This new number allows anyone in the USA to call, text, or live chat for support seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
This new number was introduced following The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which requires the Federal Communications Commission to assign 9-8-8 as the telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
The Lifeline provides confidential support to anyone in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This new service came about following increased federal funding to the 988 networks to help ensure call centers could support an expected surge in calls.
The vital number to remember
The news of this dedicated suicide prevention service was announced in advance of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day 2022. World Suicide Prevention Day is marked worldwide annually on September 10th by The International Association for Suicide Prevention. This organization’s aim is –
‘to prevent suicide and suicidal behavior and to alleviate its effects.’
This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘creating hope through action.’ There is no better way to create hope through action and to act globally than for each country to set up its own suicide helpline along with the associated infrastructure to provide those who are suicidal and in emotional distress with the help they urgently need. Suicide figures remain high
Suicide figures remain high
The figures are shocking, particularly in younger western world populations. On the surface, there seems little proactiveness with governments worldwide to take action in support of suicide prevention. The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately one million people die yearly worldwide as a result of suicide.
In the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death between the ages of 10-14 and in the age group of 25-34, was the second cause of death. Notably, there were nearly two times as many suicides (45,979) in the United States in 2020 as homicides.
In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, the Samaritans estimate that 6,000 people take their own lives each year, with tens of thousands further attempting suicide.
Suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45 years in the UK, and more worryingly, suicides amongst teenage girls and young women have doubled in recent years.
In the UK, Mind, Samaritans, and Calm, amongst other organizations, work tirelessly to support those in need.
Suicide remains preventable
Most shockingly is the little-understood fact that, in most cases, timely interventions can make suicide preventable.
According to CALM, a fifth of adults reported having thought of taking their own life at some point. Annually, on September 10th, My Mind News urges you to pause and take time to play your part. Brief yourself and those around you on how to support your family, friends, and work colleagues.
In addition to taking on personal responsibility to support those we know and love, the whole team at My Mind News is certain that introducing a national three-digit number specifically for suicide prevention would go a long way to reducing these figures.
The remaining question is how many more lives could be saved and why countries have not followed suit and introduced a three-digit number helpline with robust support and infrastructure.
Those vociferously advocating for the introduction of 988 as the globally recognizable suicide prevention telephone number are urging action now to prevent further unnecessary and tragic loss of life through suicide in the future.
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