Three-Digit Number 988 Approved by Federal Government for National Suicide Prevention Hotline

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline gets permission to have its number changed to 988.

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which will take effect in 2002. Suicidal callers will be able to reach out for help by dialing 988, instead of the current, 10-digit number 1-800-273-8255.

"My hope is that by establishing a government-backed 988 suicide and mental health three-digit dialing code, on par with the 911 dialing code all Americans know for emergencies, we will send a powerful signal that there is nothing shameful about seeking help in times of crisis," said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

"It's a sign of strength, not one of weakness. We will let people know that they are not alone," Pai said.

Calls to suicide prevention help lines have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, commissioners noted.

Since 2008, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the No. 2 cause of death for Americans aged 10 to 34.