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CEO of pharmaceutical company praises new, shorter, suicide hotline

The new 3-digit hotline will be “988.” The current suicide hotline is “800-273-TALK.”
Suicide prevention referral numbers card
Suicide prevention referral numbers card(WHSV)
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 7:40 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules this July to implement a new nationwide suicide hotline in 2022.

The new 3-digit hotline will be 988, similar to 911. The current suicide hotline is 800-273-TALK.

Shawn Singh is the CEO of VistaGen Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, that focuses on anxiety, depression and other neurological disorders. VistaGen is in the process of developing a new anxiety medication.

Singh said this transition to a quicker hotline is critical, especially in a time when there are a lot of anxiety and depression provoking stressors, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having 988, digits that are right next to each other on every landline and every mobile phone, will just make it so much easier to dispatch some intervention, some kind of care, just like with 911,” Singh said.

Singh said in certain situations, seconds matter and having the number reduced to three digits makes all the difference.

Singh said he also hopes this movement to a new hotline number will help destigmatize mental illness.

“This is just another element that says, it’s a problem. We have ways to fix it. It’s okay to reach out for help. It’s not something you should be embarrassed about. It’s not something that you should be reserved in discussing with your family, your friends, your coworkers,” Singh said.

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