Oregon Sen. Wyden recommends 3-digit emergency number for mental health support

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Senator Ron Wyden is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create a new three-digit phone number to connect people to mental health support.

"I believe that a 3-digit code number, similar to 9-1-1 for emergencies, would most easily come to mind for those in need of intervention services," Sen. Wyden wrote in his letter to the FCC.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates are rising across the country.

Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 the CDC reports.

In Portland, Lines For Life manages a 24 helpline for people who are dealing with a mental health crisis.

"A thought of suicide can lead to a suicide attempt, can lead to a suicide, that is certainly an emergency," said David Westbrook the Chief Operations Officer for Lines For Life.

People can dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with staff and volunteer crisis intervention specialist.

Westbrook said a three-digit number could be simpler where each person could easily memorize it.

"It begins to normalize these mental health crisis that anyone can go through," said Westbrook. "If I lose my wife and I don’t have a support system, that could very quickly become a mental health crisis for me 18:51 knowing there’s a three digit number like 9-1-1 it’s simple, that’s the number that I call."

Westbrook said Oregon falls behind other states in providing resources to people with mental health issues.

"We don’t have the same number of resources available in other states ," he said.



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