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FCC proposes 988 for suicide prevention hotline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline could change from 1-800-273-8255 to 988.

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The FCC will vote on whether to make 988 the new national suicide prevention hotline.
Angela Lang/CNET

The US Federal Communications Commission is considering a new rule to make 988 the national suicide prevention and mental health hotline. FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced Tuesday the issue will be voted on during the Dec. 12 public meeting.

"The suicide rate in the United States is at its highest level since World War II, and designating 988 as the suicide prevention and mental health hotline would be a major boost for our nation's suicide prevention efforts," Pai said. "Awareness of this resource -- including how memorable the number is -- should make a real difference in saving lives."

The change would mean all phone companies must transmit all calls to 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which at the moment is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

The hotline is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and consists of 163 crisis centers across the US.