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AT&T stepping up to help those in mental crisis

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 3:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AT&T is stepping up to support an easier way to access help for those who are struggling.

AT&T is giving its wireless customers early access to a three-digit emergency hotline code.

“I think it’s a wonderful first step in terms of suicide prevention, because I think there’s a lot of confusion and lack of knowledge around the country, more broadly about where to go for help when you have a mental health crisis,” Lenny Carter with UVA Student Health said.

Those who dial 988 will be directed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“Quick and easy access to crisis response services are a very important part of suicide prevention. Interventions like suicide lines give people the tools that they need to manage the feelings that they might be having in the moment and that can go a long way and preventing a current crisis from becoming a bigger crisis,” Joanna Jennings with Region Ten said.

The entire country will have access to this code next year.

“When we saw 911 come on to the scene as a number that people could call it was a really a revolution in mobilizing law enforcement and medical personnel, and so hopefully with 988 that will transform how we respond to mental health and crisis services,” Jennings said.

According to AT&T, about 99% of its wireless customers can dial 988 right now. Wired customers will be able to access the 988 hotline in July 2022, along with the rest of the country.

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