It’s official: The nation suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline number will be shortened to three digits.
The news comes after President Donald Trump signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act into law on Oct. 17. The legislation simplifies the emergency hotline number from ten digits to three: 988.
The goal is to make the number as easy for people to remember and to access as 911 — and to ultimately reduce the number of suicides in America as a result.
The legislation gives phone service providers until July 16, 2022 to direct 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. After that, the number should be up and running nationwide.
Behavioral health advocates, who have long pushed for the legislation, praised the move. That includes Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, who called the act’s passage the “single-most important development to reduce suicide in America to date.”
“This is especially important in the wake of increased isolation, fear, grief and substance use due to COVID-19,” Ingoglia said in a statement. “We appreciate the tireless work done to make this hotline a reality and look forward to continuing working with lawmakers and our members to not only ensure the promise of 9-8-8, but to keep improving access to crisis services and high quality care.”