988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The caller is routed to their nearest crisis center to receive immediate counseling and local mental health referrals. The lifeline supports people who call for themselves or someone they care about. The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018 required the FCC and other agencies to consider a three-digit number for the hotline. In July 2020, the FCC finalized an order to direct telecommunication carriers to implement 9-8-8 as the new toll-free nationwide telephone number for the hotline by July 16, 2022. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com place the current hotline phone number and website details of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as the reserved first result for when anyone enters keywords related to suicide.
The effective implementation date is July 16, 2022. All covered providers must implement 988. Covered providers include all telecommunications carriers, interconnected VoIP providers, and one-way VoIP providers. The order requires covered providers to implement mandatory 10-digit dialing in NPA’s that use 988 as an NXX.
Why is 10 digit dialing required?
Dialing delay could result in the caller terminating the call because he/she thinks the call failed or unrelated calls may be routed to the hotline when a 7-digit number is dialed too slowly.
10-digit dialing eliminates the need for a dialing delay as the caller must first input the 3-digit area code before entering the 7-digit number (i.e., XXX-988-XXXX), avoiding the problem of dial delay.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255).