FCC approves changing Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to '988'

In 2022, this will replace the current 10 digit lifeline number, in hopes to make getting help easier in time of a crisis.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 5:28 PM
Updated: Jul 20, 2020 6:20 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Right now, if you call 1-800-273-8255 you'll be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Soon, that number will change to "988."

Mental health advocates said this simple change could save thousands of lives.

"We have to think about an individual that is really trying to grasp onto life. The last little shred of hope that they have, and this phone call could help save their life," said Christina Crist, with Team of Mercy.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the change last week.

It will go into effect in 2022.

Not only could it help someone contemplating suicide, but loved ones trying to help.

"Also for their family members, so they can call if they see the signs and symptoms in a loved one, and not have to search for the number, or find another way to talk to them. To have people readily available with just the push of three buttons, I think it's pretty phenomenal," said Natasha Newcomb, with the Hamilton Center.

Many hope this will help break the stigma associated with mental health concerns and suicide.

"Making this the National Suicide Prevention number, I think it shows that we are starting to put more emphasis on the importance of mental health, and that as a country we're starting to see 'Hey, you know, we need to be doing more as a country to offer these services and provide that availability," said Newcomb.

By changing the number to 988, mental health advocates said this shows these crises are just as important as those you would report when calling 911.

"By them making this a three digit number, they're saying "This is just as important as somebody else's crisis,'" said Crist.

The current 10 digit lifeline number will remain in use until 2022.

You can call 1-800-273-8255 number 24 hours a day seven days a week.

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