New Dialing Hotline for those in Need


Photo by Owen Davis

Assistance for people suffering mental crises just got a whole lot more accessible for all. Beginning Jul. 16, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission has established that 988 is the new nationwide dialing code for the suicide and crisis prevention hotline. The United States has been required by the FCC to implement a 3-digit code of 988 so that all citizens have a more easily accessible number when dialing in to connect with suicide prevention and mental health experts/counselors. 

The change of digits has now been adopted throughout the nation and has had a tremendous positive impact on providing aid for those during a crisis in a short period of time.

The change of numbers is similar to the number 911, which was purposely done to make the number more easily recognizable such as the emergency hotline. The difference between 911 and 988 calls is that 988 is targeted specifically for cases in which someone is struggling with their mental health, substance abuse, or emotional distress. 

Rhitu Chatterjee, the health correspondent writer for NPR, states in her article “988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline ” that the new service has “…reached over 1.7 million calls, texts and chats in its first five months” and “nearly half a million more than the old 10-digit Suicide hotline.” 

This new number is also targeted toward youth instead of only adults so that youths also feel that they have someone to confide in if they feel they cannot speak to a guardian or any other person they know.  

Due to the implementation of the hotline prevention number, there have been certain phone numbers that changed their 10-digit dialing digits due to the inability to use 988. The three digits cannot be used as an area code since any dialing of 988 will automatically transfer you to the crisis hotline. 

Many people state that this is only the beginning of what is to come for the prevention of mental illness and distress, but it is important to recognize that this start for mental health awareness is crucial  and should not be overlooked.