The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to allow a text option to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Starting in July 2022, people will be able to either call or text 988 for help.
“In 2020, 44,834 individuals died by suicide in the United States, and evidence suggests the toll of the global pandemic has only increased the strain on many Americans’ mental health and wellbeing,” the FCC said in a statement.
The FCC says texting will make it easier for people to reach a crisis counselor because it allows a level of anonymity.
“Suicide significantly impacts at-risk communities, including youth, the Black community, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and the deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, and people who have speech disabilities that affect communication,” the FCC said.
People who need help prior to July can still reach a counselor. They can call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They can also chat with a counselor online.