Students outraged after calling suicide hotline on school IDs: 'It was kind of disbelief'
A California school district apologized after a group of middle-schoolers called what they thought was the suicide prevention hotline — only to discover it was actually a sex hotline.
The mix-up, which occurred at New Vista Middle School in Lancaster, Calif., was the result of an alleged misprint on the backs of the students' ID cards, CNN reported.
New Vista student Emily Lavelle was the first to notice the error, after she and her friends got curious one day and dialed what they thought was the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. Emily then told her mother, Janene, when she picked her up from an after school program Monday afternoon.
"First thing I did was call the number, and sure enough, it was a sex line," Janene Lavelle told CNN. "I was pretty shocked — it was kind of disbelief."
Lavelle said she wanted to call the school, but it was after hours, so she posted a photo of her daughter's ID on Facebook instead. The image, which Facebook removed on Wednesday for violating its community standards, quickly went viral.
The image caught the school's attention though, and the Lancaster School District ultimately released a statement apologizing for the mistake.
"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 said in the statement.
Bowers went on to say that administrators had since collected all school IDs and would correct the error with new cards as soon as possible. Until then, the superintendent announced that the current, incorrect number has been redirected to take callers to the suicide prevention line.
"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," Bowers told CNN in an email.
Lavelle said the school district should feel responsible for their mistake but added that she simply wants them to correct the error as soon as they can. The mother said she did not find any humor in the situation.
"It does have a humorous undertone to it, but if someone needed help and they called that number, I don't know what would happen," she said. "They have that number for a reason, and the fact that they call it and get this number obviously and then what would they do?"
The correct number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.