One of the most vital services the government offers is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It runs around the clock every day of the year and is intended to help ease people from the critical distress they may be facing in a moment of need. But if you weren't able to use its web-based chat line, would you be able to dial its number (1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-273-TALK) by memory if you ever needed it? Chances being what they are, maybe not. That's part of why the FCC is proposing to use a new number, 988, as a redirect to the lifeline.
Congress passed a bill last year which tasked the FCC, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — which runs the NSPL — into creating a new, easier-to-remember three-digit code for the service. The commission preferred creating 988 over replacing an existing triplet ending in "11" such as "311" because it would be faster to deploy the number from a technological standpoint and easier to educate the public.
If the FCC approves the new number, service providers would need to make 988 connectable to the NSPL within 18 months, though the agency will consider public comment on whether the transition period could be longer or shorter among other things. The existing number will continue to be used.
Again, if you need support, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or by 1-800-273-8255. It is available to you 24/7.
- PBS NewsHour