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U.S. House Approves 988 Number for Suicide Prevention Lifeline

BY: Josh Weaver
Illustration of a hand holding a phone, showing an incoming text that says, "I'm here for you!" above the reflection of the person's face

Today — The Trevor Project commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which when implemented will allow Americans to simply dial ‘988’ to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, instead of the current ten-digit number. Passed by the Senate in May and now the House, this is the first bill that is specifically LGBTQ-inclusive to pass Congress unanimously in history.

The FCC formally approved a two-year phase-in plan for the new 988 number on July 16th. The passage of this bill was a necessary, concurrent step as it authorizes the funding mechanisms needed for 988 to be successful and it contains several key LGBTQ-inclusive provisions, including requirements for LGBTQ cultural competency training for all Lifeline counselors and the establishment of an Integrated Voice Response option for LGBTQ youth and other high-risk populations to reach specialized care.

“This passage is a historic victory, as this is the first explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive bill to pass unanimously in history — and 988 will undoubtedly save countless lives. According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 40% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered it. This vital legislation will require the Lifeline to provide specialized services for LGBTQ youth and other high-risk groups, and make it so much easier for millions of Americans to find support in moments of crisis. We express our sincere gratitude to Congressmen Moulton and Stewart for their leadership in championing the expansion of suicide prevention resources,” said Sam Brinton (they/them pronouns), Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health:

  • 40% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered it
  • 68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks, including more than 3 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months, including over 60% of transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity
    46% of youth report they wanted psychological or emotional counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past twelve months

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