Why Net Neutrality Changes Weaken Efforts to Prevent Suicide


For years, net neutrality has been the status quo for internet users. Net neutrality requires internet service providers to offer access to all websites — no favorites.

The new pay-to-play system will lower speeds for those who can’t shell out enough money to compete: small businesses, nonprofits and average users, to name a few.

For mental health care providers with an online client base, the proposed changes are especially alarming.

I joined The Crisis Center in 2002. I watched from the beginning as we built one of the country’s first online crisis chat programs, now a staple of crisis intervention.

Volunteers at The Crisis Center answer about 30,000 crisis contacts each year. About half of those are calls and half are chats. Chats will soon surpass calls.

We rely on online connectivity to reach the people who need it most — from teenagers self-harming in high school bathrooms to rural Iowans struggling to cope as their farms suffer.

Right now, all Iowans can access free, confidential help via IowaCrisisChat.org. Without net neutrality, chat is in danger. Soon, bigger, more powerful sites will be able to fast track their users while ours will be undercut and immobilized. The FCC tearing net neutrality apart literally puts lives at stake.

We can no longer be silent about the need for net neutrality and how it affects the thousands of people who turn to us for help.

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Getty image via Tijana87


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