FCC Designates ‘988’ As New National Suicide Prevention Hotline Number

Jul 17, 2020, 12:54 AM | Updated: Jul 20, 2020, 10:11 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Two years from now, you will be able to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by just dialing three numbers. The FCC designated “988” as the national suicide prevention hotline number last week.

The agency said it will be easier for people to remember than the current 10-digit number. Utah’s own legislators, former GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Stewart, sponsored the legislation.

“988 will be an essential resource for those struggling with mental health. This easy to remember dialing code will literally save lives,” Stewart said. “We have been working years on this and I am very excited to see it progress. It’s so rewarding to see an initiative that began in Utah with Rep. Steve Eliason and Sen. Daniel Thatcher become a nationwide reality.”

Long-time mental health advocate Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said this puts mental health on parity with physical health.

“A mental health crisis is just as real as physical health illnesses [such as] diabetes or asthma, and we need to continue to talk about that in the state and in the nation. These issues should not be stigmatized,” he said. “They’re real and people need to know there’s help available.”

However, the number won’t go live until July 2022, so if you or anyone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

“Just like 911 it needs to be easy to remember, easy to dial, and toll-free,” Eliason said. “This makes it very clear that as a nation we’re prioritizing mental health more and more.”

Eliason said several states need to upgrade their crisis centers, personnel and resources before the technical switch can become a reality. He said Utah has largely done that and will be prepared when the time comes to introduce the change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Crisis Hotlines

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Statewide/Salt Lake County Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • Utah County Crisis Line: 801-691-5433
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

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FCC Designates ‘988’ As New National Suicide Prevention Hotline Number