WASHINGTON – Federal regulators are scheduled to vote in July to make “988” the number to reach a suicide prevention hotline.
The Federal Communications Commission says phone service providers will have until July 2022 to implement the new number, if the measure is approved, as expected.
Once it’s in place, people will be able to dial 988 to seek help, like how you can call 911 for an emergency. Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255), which routes calls to about 170 crisis centers.
That 800 number will still work but it is hoped that the shorter number makes it easier for people to get help.
The government’s action comes as suicide rates have increased across the U.S. over the past two decades.