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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously Thursday to require phone companies to route text messages sent to "988" to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Why it matters: By making it easier to text the Lifeline, the FCC aims to increase accessibility for communities at a higher risk of suicide and mental health crises.

How it works: The move is meant to help 988 become the three-digit number to use for mental health crises, much like 911 is the number for emergencies.

  • With the FCC's vote, cell phone service providers would be required to meet a July 2022 deadline to deliver both texts and phone calls made to 988 to the Lifeline.

What they're saying: Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that suicide rates have increased for young girls, and that LGBTQ youth are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers.

  • "These truths are undeniably painful because these young people deserve a future, they deserve support, " Rosenworcel said in a statement at the agency's meeting. "And that support should be simple to access."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline currently can be reached at the toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

Go deeper: Suicide hotline's text upgrade could strain system

Go deeper

Updated Nov 25, 2021 - Technology

Congress decimates 911's digital upgrade

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public safety officials fear the nation's 911 centers will continue to languish in the analog era, after Democrats slashed proposed funding for a digital makeover in their social spending bill.

Why it matters: The potentially life-saving ability for people to send texts, pictures or videos to 911 centers, and for centers to seamlessly share data with each other, remains out of reach for many of the country’s 6,000 centers.

19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.