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Congress May Improve Routing Of 988 Suicide Hotline Calls

Since its launch in 2022, almost 10 million Americans have used 988, the the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that is an alternative to interacting with law enforcement through 911. However, 988's lack of proper geo-routing is limiting its effectiveness. Some members of Congress are introducing legislation to improve the lifeline, reports Governing.


988 calls now are routed to the agencies associated with the caller's area code, not their actual location. This means that callers are usually answered by agencies across the country instead of nearby ones that would be better equipped to connect callers to local resources. California Sen. Alex Padilla and New York Reps. Marc Molinaro and Paul Tonko have introduced bills that would route 988 calls using the caller’s current location and cellphone towers the same way 911 calls are routed. Their bills have bipartisan support. Mental health advocates say that geo-routing will help local mental health efforts support people in crisis more strategically. "We want to keep them in the community," said Hannah Wesolowski of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

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