Federal government recommends 3-digit suicide lifeline

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently recommended using the 3-digit code 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The recommendation was made in consultation with the North American Numbering Council, the U.S. Departments of Veteran Affairs and Health and Human Services Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Services Administration.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline only can be reached online or via an 11-digit phone number. In addition, veterans and service members can contact the Veterans Crisis Line via telephone or online.

Last year, the FCC adopted rules designating 988 for suicide prevention and mental health crisis counseling with mid-2022 as the target completion date for adoption. Once completed, telephone service providers would direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide and Prevention Lifeline.

“This is a worthwhile effort by the FCC,” Kenneth C. Hill, Tennessee Public Utility Commission chairman, said. “Suicide has ranked among the top-ten of the leading causes of death in the United States, and any steps that can be taken to connect Tennessee residents in crisis to intervention service organizations will be tremendously helpful.”

The 988 number will be easy to remember for suicide prevention and mental health crisis services, Hill said, the way 911 is for emergencies.

Melina Druga

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