FCC approves '988' as new 3-digit number for suicide prevention hotline

The proposal was officially made at the Open Meeting Thursday.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved a proposal to implement a new resource that will serve as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai formally proposed the three-digit number, 988, during an Open Commission Meeting on Thursday.

The agency consisting of five members unanimously approved the proposal, which will now be open for public comment and start the formal rule-making process.

Under the new proposal, calls made to 988 would be directed to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of 163 crisis centers available at 1-800-273-TALK & online, according to the FCC.

According to the FCC fact sheet, the proposed rule was conceived after Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018.

"The statute tasked the FCC -- with examining and reporting on the technical feasibility of designating a shorter number -- "a simple, easy-to-remember, 3-digit dialing code" -- for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline."

The official proposal starts the process of designating 988 as the three-digit dialing code for this purpose, which the FCC said will "help increase the effectiveness of suicide prevention efforts, ease access to crisis services, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health conditions, and ultimately save lives."

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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