Washington, DC — This week FCC Chairman Ajit Pai held a press conference where he proposed using the 3-digit number “988” for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can currently be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Pai specifically identified LGBTQ youth in his remarks as a population at higher risk of seriously considering suicide, indicating a need for specialized services at the Lifeline for such at-risk populations.
“Perhaps the most disturbing trends involve young people,” said Pai. “More than one in 10 young adults report having suicidal thoughts, a 47% increase since 2009. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death on college campuses. And LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at a rate almost three times higher than heterosexual youth. More than half a million LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide this year alone.”
In addition, Sam Brinton, The Trevor Project’s Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs, encouraged quick action in implementing a three-digit code for the Lifeline. They also urged federal officials to provide LGBTQ cultural competency training for Lifeline counselors, and to establish an integrated voice response to route calls to organizations with the appropriate expertise to assist LGBTQ youth in crisis, such as The Trevor Project.
“Critically important to our community, the FCC’s August report to Congress identified young LGBTQ Americans as an acutely high-risk population for suicide attempts and also recognized the need for specialized services for such at-risk populations. The Trevor Project stands ready to help the Lifeline serve this population,” said Brinton.
Also speaking to the importance of the Lifeline and 988 was Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO), who stated, “The transition will allow us to reach out to LGBTQ communities in our country, to save lives and make an impact, to give people hope and to give people help.” Senator Gardner has introduced bipartisan legislation (S. 2661) directing the FCC to establish 988 as the 3-digit code and a staunch advocate for LGBTQ youth specialized services.
The Trevor Project looks forward to its continued partnership with the FCC, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Congress to help save and protect young LGBTQ lives.