Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline Bill Heads to Trump’s Desk

The national suicide prevention hotline number is one step closer to being shortened to three digits. To make it happen, all that’s needed now is a signature from President Donald Trump.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act on Monday. The legislation aims to shorten the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to a distinctive, three digit code: 988.

Currently, Americans in crisis must dial 10 digits to reach the hotline. By shortening the telephone number to an easy-to-remember, three-digit code similar to 911, the goal is to make it easier for people with mental health emergencies to get help.


The House’s passage of the act comes after the measure was previously approved by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The bill is now awaiting a signature from President Trump, at which time it will become law.

If signed into law, the legislation would give phone service providers until July 16, 2022 to direct 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Behavioral health stakeholders, who have lauded the legislation since it was introduced last year, this week expressed their excitement about the bill making its way to President Trump’s desk.


“We applaud House and Senate leadership for their tremendous bipartisan efforts in advancing legislation to ensure 988 is up and running within 2 years,” Centerstone CEO David Guth said in a statement. “Making this national service a reality will forever transform how consumers access mental health care.”

Meanwhile, leaders at the American Psychological Association (APA), who also praised the passage of the act, are urging President Trump to sign the bill into law sooner rather than later.

“The administration must work swiftly to ensure that the implementation of the hotline includes appropriate funding, public education and specialized training for responders,” APA CEO Arthur Evans said in a statement. “We cannot delay in responding to our nation’s growing mental health crisis.”

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline fields more than 2 million crisis calls per year.