FCC Designates '988' As 3-Digit Number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
This morning, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the FCC is moving forward with a report and order to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors and will vote on the order at its July 16 Open Meeting. The rules, if adopted, will require all phone service providers to begin directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of approximately 170 crisis centers. While this transition takes place, Americans who need help should continue to contact the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. The rules would apply to all telecommunications carriers as well as all interconnected and one-way VoIP service providers. The draft final rules reject a request from phone service providers for a longer transition period. But they also reflect the real challenges of such a nationwide effort including the need for widespread network changes and providing time for Congress, other federal agencies, and local call centers to prepare for the expected increase in the volume of calls.