By texting or calling a simple three-digit number — 988 — lives are about to change for those who need help.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted governing rules to oversee the implementation of a three-digit phone number July 16, 2020. Two years later, the phone number that will connect callers with suicide prevention and mental health counselors will be live.
The counselors are part of a 200-plus crisis center network across the country that has been in operation since 2005.
In addition to dialing “988,” the FCC stipulated that a text message-based option exists as well. The texting option also went into service Saturday, July 16.
All cell and internet service providers are required by law to connect calls or online chats with the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans or current service members can press “1” after dialing the three-digit phone number to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Veterans can also text “838255” or visit veteranscrisisline.net for assistance.
The new 988 number was proposed as an easy-to-remember solution for increasing access to suicide prevention resources. According to data from the Centers for Disease control, 45,799 people died by suicide in 2020, making it the 12th-leading cause of death in the United States.
For more information, visit samhsa.gov/find-help/988.