FILE – A screen displays a notice on an iPhone on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in New York. U.S. communications regulators are requiring that phone companies allow people to text as well as call a new “988” number for the suicide-prevention hotline. The Federal Communications Commission last summer voted to require phone companies support the 988 number for people to call to reach an existing suicide-prevention hotline. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

988 will be the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to The National Suicide Prevention Pipeline. According to an article from The Pipeline, people in emotional distress or dealing with a suicidal crisis can use 988 to call or text trained counselors who are a part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network.  

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34. People of any age, race, ethnicity or sex can find themselves having thoughts of suicide. However, veterans, people in rural areas, minority groups, middle-aged adults, and tribal populations can experience factors linked to suicide on disproportionate levels. People who have experienced particularly violent episodes also have a higher suicide risk. 

Since its foundation, The National Suicide Prevention Pipeline has supported people in times of crisis. The Pipeline has received over 20 million calls from people in distress looking for support. It currently has a network of over 180 centers in all 50 states. Studies of lifeline calls show that most callers are less likely to feel depressed, suicidal, overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a lifeline counselor.

In October 2020, Congress signed The National Suicide Designation Act of 2020  into law. This law is a result of activism from the mental health community calling for an easy-to-remember lifeline number. 

According to the National Suicide Designation Act of 2020:

  (1) According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, there are 

129 suicides per day in The United States.

            (2) To prevent future suicides, it is critical to transition the cumbersome, existing 10-digit 

National Suicide Hotline to a universal, easy-to-remember, 3-digit phone number and 

connect people in crisis with life-saving resources.

            (3) It is essential that people in the United States have access to a 3-digit national 

suicide hotline across all geographic locations.

            (4) The designated suicide hotline number will need to be both familiar and recognizable 

to all people in the United States.

The suicide prevention lifelines are also looking to hire new volunteers and employees. Representatives from the National Suicide Prevention Pipeline have stated that the organization is looking for caring people who would like to help those involved in life crisis.

The dialing code will be available to everyone in the United States on July 16. Until then, the current lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) is still open to the public and will remain available after July 16.