On the back of student ID cards issued by New Vista Middle School in Lancaster, California were various hotlines designed to help students in crisis. One of these was a suicide prevention hotline. One day Emily Lavelle and her friends were bored, so they decided to call the latter number. The phone number listed on the ID card was not, in fact, a suicide hotline number, but a sex hotline.
Emily told her mother, who also called the number and verified her daughter’s story; she couldn’t call the school right away because it was after hours, so instead Lavelle posted about the misinformation on Facebook. The post went viral almost instantly, but it was taken down by the social media site for “[going] against our community standard on adult sexual solicitation.”
The superintendent of the Lancaster School District issued an apology for the error and recalled all of its student ID cards. “We are very sorry for this error, and we are working hard to correct it. The phone numbers have two digits transposed and this is a mistake. The incorrect number listed on the card is actually a sex line,” superintendent Michelle Bowers told CNN.
All calls to the incorrect number are being rerouted to the correct suicide hotline. “Upon learning about the problem (I’m assuming because of the increased calls and inquiries), the owner of the sex line number was kind enough to have all calls on that number forwarded to the suicide prevention hotline,” she told CNN.
The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. The service is available 24 hours a day.