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FCC passes rule to make 988 the national suicide prevention hotline

The older 1-800 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will remain operational.

Hunched, hooded person walking in misty woods
David Wall

The US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday passed rules to establish 988 as the national suicide prevention and mental health hotline

In an interview with CNET last month, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said he hopes that the hotline will help stimulate a national conversation around mental health.  

"Mental health still is seen as an issue that shouldn't be discussed or can't be discussed in an open way," Pai said. "Just as in the health care context, where we wouldn't bat an eyelash if somebody breaks his leg or has asthma and needs to go get treatment, I think we need to think about mental health issues in the same way."

The rules, proposed last year, would require all phone companies to transmit calls to 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which at the moment is reached via 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Under the newly adopted rules, phone providers will have until July 16, 2022, to make the switch. 

The 1-800 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline would remain operational during and after the transition, the FCC said.


If you're struggling with negative thoughts or suicidal feelings, here are 13 suicide and crisis intervention hotlines you can use to get help.

You can also call these numbers:

US: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. 

UK: The Samaritans can be reached at 116 123. 

AU: Lifeline can be reached at 13 11 14.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.