Whether you’ve gotten in a car accident, have accidentally caught your kitchen on fire or you’ve realized someone is stealing Amazon packages off your front porch, your first reaction is usually instant: call 911. The 3-digit number is synonymous with emergency response teams like the local police and fire departments. And it’s effective, because you can remember it in a pinch.
However, there’s one emergency 911 is not meant for: a mental health crisis.
And that’s where 988 comes in. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently designated the 3-digit number to be the new connection to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Beginning July 16, 2022, callers in crisis will be directly connected to suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors if they dial 988.
Switching to this easy-to-remember number reflects a commitment to making it easier for Americans to access the help they need in times of crisis and to decreasing the stigma around suicide and mental health care.
988’s Impact on Local Dialing and TelNet Customers
To ensure that all calls to 988 reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, providers like TelNet Worldwide are required to implement 10-digital dialing (the area code and telephone number) in areas that use 7-digit dialing and use 988 as the first three numbers in a 7-digit phone number.
While TelNet customers are currently able to place calls with either 7 or 10 digits, this will no longer be the case moving forward. We’re taking the opportunity to mandate 10-digit dialing across our network. Beginning October 24, 2021, callers must dial all 10 digits to place local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only 7 digits may not be completed.
Starting July 16, 2022, TelNet will transmit all 988 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can currently be reached at (800) 273-TALK. This number will remain operational during and after the 988 transition.
About The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of approximately 170 crisis centers supported by local and state and public and private sources. It’s also supported by Congressional appropriations through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also the access point for the Veterans Crisis Line, which is managed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
During the transition to 988, Americans who need help should continue to contact the Lifeline by calling (800) 273-TALK (8255) and through online chats. Veterans and Service Members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.