FCC votes to make '988' new suicide hotline number

FCC votes to make '988' new suicide hotline number
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted Thursday to finalize 988 as the new number for Americans to call to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The rule approved by the commissioners will require all phone service providers to direct 988 calls to the line by July 16, 2022.

In the interim, Americans seeking help should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK.

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"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 and decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues," the FCC said in a statement.

The suicide rate in the U.S. has been climbing for decades, ranking as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States since 2018.

More than 48,000 Americans died by suicide in 2018, according to public data.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE signed legislation in 2018 directing the FCC to begin studying the use of a three-digit code for the hotline.

The agency's commissioners then approved the 988 number in December, initiating the rulemaking process.