The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available for people in suicidal crisis under a new easier-to-remember phone number in two years.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to finalize 988 as the number Americans can call to be directed to the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline. As of right now, individuals in suicidal crisis can reach that hotline by dialing 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), but that number will be easier to remember once it transitions to its three-digit equivalent starting on July 16th, 2022.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement on Thursday, “Establishing the easy-to-remember 988 as the ‘911’ for suicide prevention and mental health services will make it easier for Americans in crisis to access the help they need.”
As of right now, the national suicide hotline does not provide texting services. Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel took issue with the commission’s decision not to include the ability to text the hotline in its rulemaking.
“Voice service has its benefits, but it is not native for most young people,” Rosenworcel said in a statement on Thursday. “So I regret today’s decision is anchored in older technologies and takes a pass on developing texting capabilities with this three-digit hotline. We should have done so here.”
Last August, the FCC released a report suggesting that a three-digit hotline number would make it easier for those struggling with suicidal thoughts to seek out help.