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Sean D. Reyes
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FCC Unanimously Designates 988 as New Three-Digit Suicide Hotline

June 16, 2020

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to designate 988 as the new three-digit suicide hotline.

Currently, callers can reach the hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). With the FCC’s ruling, service providers will have a two-year transition period, with implementation of the three-digit hotline to be finalized by July 16, 2022. During this transition, all crisis calls to the hotline should continue to be directed to the current, 10-digit number. After the transition is completed, callers will still be able to reach the hotline by calling the 10-digit number.  

The designation of the three-digit hotline comes at a time when it is needed most. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Utah, suicide is the 7th leading cause of death, putting Utah with the 6th highest rate of suicide in the nation.

The idea for a three-digit suicide prevention hotline was first conceived right here in Utah. Utah Senator Dan Thatcher first proposed the idea for a three-digit suicide prevention line in 2012, but it didn’t gain traction in the Legislature at that time. Senator Thatcher partnered with the Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Wade Farraway, Missy Larsen, and others at the Utah Attorney General’s Office in 2014. The group started the SafeUT app as a way to reach Utahns in crisis while still campaigning for the three-digit number. In 2017, the group enlisted the help of Rep. Chris Stewart and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who presented the idea on the federal level. This has led to the designation of the three-digit number 988.

We are grateful for our partners for working diligently with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to get a three-digit crisis line off the ground and to the FCC for prioritizing suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know is struggling and/or having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or message a trained crisis counselor through the SafeUT app. These support lines are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Read the FCC’s press release here.

Attorney General Reyes Continues Work With FCC to Expose Illegal Robocallers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2020

EXPOSING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLERS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES CONTINUES WORK WITH FCC ON TRACED ACT ENFORCEMENT

SALT LAKE CITY– Attorney General Sean Reyes is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue the focus on ‘tracing back’ illegal robocalls at their source, using collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies and in partnership with the State Attorneys General Robocall Working Group on this issue.

Under the TRACED Act, which became law in December 2019, the FCC will select a single registered association to manage the work to trace back illegal robocalls. Because a call can pass through the networks of many telecom companies before reaching its destination, tracing that call—which is key to enforcing our laws against illegal robocallers—requires collaboration among telecom companies and state attorneys general. In their comments, the States note that traceback investigations are necessary for law enforcement to identify and investigate illegal robocallers and expose voice service providers that assist and facilitate illegal robocallers more efficiently.

For the last few years, state attorneys general have encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of traceback investigations each month. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Traceback investigations are more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.  

Since 2018, Utah has been a member of a coalition of states working with the telecom industry to attack the scourge of robocalls in a comprehensive way by implementing common-sense business practices to minimize illegal robocalls and trace these calls back to their source. Attorney General Reyes is joined in submitting today’s comments by the Attorneys General of 52 States and Territories.

A copy of the comments is available here.

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FCC Votes to Proceed Designation of 988 as New Suicide Prevention Hotline Number

December 13, 2019

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to proceed with the process of designating 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit number dedicated as a suicide prevention and mental health crisis line. This number will replace the current, 12-digit number 1-800-273-8255.

“This designation will help ease access to crisis services, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health condition, and ultimately save lives,” the FCC said in a release Thursday.

This decision follows a report the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics sent to Congress in August recommending a 3-digit dialing code as the crisis hotline. The report noted a more than 20% increase in suicides in over most of the nation from 1999 to 2019. It also noted increasing suicide rates in Veterans and the LGBTQ community.

“This is 911 for mental and behavioral crises. And this emergency number started right here in Utah, with amazing partners like Senator Daniel Thatcher and this office demanding more be done to address the alarming suicide rates in this nation,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.

“We couldn’t get it passed at the state level, so we pushed to the federal level. Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart were our champions. It’s amazing to finally see it come to fruition. It is one of the achievements in public service of which I am most proud.

“A simplified three-digit suicide and mental and behavioral health hotline will make a huge difference when it comes to intervention and prevention. It will save lives! No doubt,” Attorney General Reyes added.

All telecommunication carriers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service providers must implement the 988 number within the next 18 months.

The Commission will begin taking public comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking following publication in the Federal Register. Following review of that public record, the Commission will move toward final rules.

The change to the 988 hotline will not be implemented for several months. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or contemplating suicide, please use the SafeUT app to speak with a crisis counselor for free or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).