Woman who lost parents, brother to suicide advocates for 988 national suicide hotline

Woman who lost parents, brother to suicide advocates for 988 national suicide hotline
(WPXI)

Every 11 minutes, someone takes their own life in the U.S.

For Kristina Woodahl Brown, that unimaginable tragedy struck her three times.

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"My mother took her life when I was 11,” Brown said.

Eight years later, her brother killed himself at just 21-years-old.

Then in 2004, her father took his own life, too.

A photo of her 11th birthday is a reminder of the love they shared; it was the last picture of her family altogether.

"It was after my father passed away that I really knew that I must address it,” Brown said. “I have experienced the loss of suicide as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.”

Brown has been honoring her family’s memory through her work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Texas to spread awareness and to help those in need.

She is one of thousands of people who have expressed support for the Federal Communication Commission’s push to change the hotline from ten digits to three: 988.

“I am a concerned citizen that cares deeply about suicide prevention,” Brown wrote to the FCC. “Like many Americans, I feel that more must be done to prevent the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.”

The current hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

"If you're in the middle of a mental health crisis, the last thing you can remember is a 1-800 number,” Angela Kimball with the National Alliance on Mental Illness said. “It's simply not practical and frankly you shouldn't have to."

"With 988, that makes it that much easier for them to act on that in that moment, feeling brave enough to reach out,” Brown said.

More than 47,000 people a year take their own lives in the U.S. with around 1.4 million attempts.

Brown is hoping that number drops with the help of a simpler hotline – something she wishes was available when her own loved ones were struggling years ago.

"It could have very well made a profound difference in the lives of each of my family members and others that I know that have struggled,” Brown said.

More than 2,600 people have submitted comments to the FCC about the proposal to change the hotline and the number is still growing.

The public has until March 16 to submit comments to the FCC about the 988 proposal.

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