U.S. FCC Designates 988 as National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Acknowledging that the rate of suicides in the U.S. has reached crisis levels, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially designated the three-digit number “988” as a nationally-available telephone number to access suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors.

A Report and Order issued by the Commission in mid-July implements new rules that will require all telecommunications carriers and voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) service providers to direct all calls made to 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of about 170 separate crisis centers across the country. Carriers and service providers have until July 16, 2022 to effect the automatic transfer of 988 calls.

According to the FCC, suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. since 2008. More than 48,000 Americans died from suicide in 2018, the equivalent of about one death from suicide every 11 minutes.

Read the complete text of the FCC’s Report and Order implementing the national suicide hotline.

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