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FCC unanimously approves '988' as suicide hotline number starting July 2022

Posted at 11:51 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 00:16:00-04

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number starting July 2022.

According to the FCC's Open Commission Meeting agenda, in two years, people in crisis can dial '988' as opposed to its current number 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) in an effort to help people get quicker access to mental health support with a number that is easy to remember.

While the FCC has proposed designating '988' as the national suicide hotline number in August 2019, it wasn't until Thursday's meeting that the FCC determined the three-digit number will go into effect in mid-2022.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, said prior to the board's vote that he hopes this decision will help people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

"My hope is that by establishing a government-backed 988 suicide and mental health three-digit dialing code, on par with the 911 dialing code all Americans know for emergencies, we will send a powerful signal that there is nothing shameful about seeking help in times of crisis," said Pai.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website, '988' is not currently active in the U.S. and may not connect callers to the lifeline.

To learn more about the FCC's vote to designate '988' as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, read the agency's meeting agenda here.