Zero Suicide Healthcare & Crisis Now Co-founders Michael F. Hogan, PhD, and David W. Covington, LPC, MBA, wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today urging the agency to use 6-1-1 for mental health and suicide crisis. They state that just as it’s unimaginable 9-1-1 would share its designation with another public purpose, the same is true for mental health crisis:
In 1967, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with the American Telephone and Telegraph, Inc. (more commonly known as AT&T) to establish an easy-to-remember emergency code that could be used nationwide. The parties came up with 9-1-1 because it was “brief, easily remembered, and could be dialed quickly.” Today, it’s one of the most recognizable numbers in the United States, and people are taught from a young age that 9-1-1 is the number to call in an emergency. Our nation desperately needs an N-1-1 for mental health and suicide crisis where time is no less critical. Suicide mortality has steadily increased in recent years, ranking as the 10th leading cause of death for people of all ages, the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34, and the fourth leading cause of death for ages 35-54.
According to the CDC, 47,173 people in the United States died by suicide in 2017. Suicide has an echoing impact as people close to those who die become more susceptible to depression and have a heightened risk of suicide. Mental health crisis, like medical crisis, is an urgent issue with a critical window of intervention, and, similarly, if not addressed rapidly, there are grave consequences. Research shows that the amount of time between a person deciding to act and attempting suicide can be as brief as 5 or 10 minutes. The intent of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018 is to well, do just that: improve people’s access to critical counsel and resources during a mental health crisis.