Callers to a toll-free suicide prevention hot line listed in more than a dozen phone books around the country instead got a woman’s voice offering a sexy come-on.
It turns out the number had been given to a phone sex service in late June or early July after the suicide hot line stopped paying for it.
That upset Deborah Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill in South Carolina. She alerted the phone company to the problem.
“This is not the kind of message a suicidal person needs to hear,” she said.
Ted Pringels’ son attempted suicide two weeks ago. Not long afterward, Pringels dialed the hot line for help in getting family counseling and got a woman’s voice promising “the naughtiest girls around.” “It was just upsetting and at a bad time,” Pringels said.
Network Telecommunication Service of Long Beach, Calif., which owns the 800 number, placed a busy signal on it Thursday after being told of the mix-up.
Harold Barron, a spokesman for GTE, said the wrong number appeared in at least 14 directories nationwide, including some in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Washington state.