INTRODUCING TELNYX STORAGE: BETTER CLOUD STORAGE, FOR LESS. JOIN THE WAITLIST.
News & Events2 min read

Dial 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

988 was designated as the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Here's what it means for U.S. phone users.

Fiona McDonnell
FCC designates 9-8-8 for Americans in crisis.
In 2020, 1.2 million American adults attempted suicide. It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for Americans between the ages of 10-64. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers critical services to individuals experiencing mental health crises. The Lifeline can currently be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK, and starting on July 16, 2022, individuals nationwide can simply dial 988.
The 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a new 3-digit dialing code that routes callers to a crisis center staffed by trained counselors. If you dial 988, your call is answered by a counselor who will listen, work to understand what you’re experiencing, and provide support. The Lifeline is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365 to anyone.
The process of changing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to a 3-digit dialing code has taken some time because it requires that telephone providers and users implement some dialing and network changes.


Jump to section:



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 implementation timeline

In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pushed for implementation of a 3-digit easy-to-remember code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (similar to dialing 911 to reach emergency services).
In July 2020, the FCC adopted rules designating 988 as a number for Americans in crisis to call to connect them with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. On October 17, 2020, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 was signed into federal law. Under the new legislation, all calls made to 988 will automatically be directed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Providers in certain areas must transition to 10-digit dialing by July 16, 2022.

2019: initial recommendation made

FCC staff consulted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the North American Numbering Council. In August 2019, the FCC released a report recommending the use of 988 as a 3-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

2020: official designation of 988 as Lifeline number

In July 2020, the FCC adopted rules designating 988 as the number for individuals in crisis to call in order to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. Individuals attempting to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline still need to dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

2021: standards finalized

In November 2021, the FCC adopted rules that would expand access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by establishing the ability to text 988 to directly reach the Lifeline as of July 16, 2020. This decision was made to better support at-risk communities in crisis, including youths and individuals with disabilities. Individuals attempting to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline still need to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until July 16, 2022.

July 16, 2022: 988 code goes live

By July 16, 2022 all phone service and text providers nationwide must direct 988 calls and texts to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will still be in service, but the FCC encourages individuals to use the easy-to-remember 3-digit 988 code.


Important 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline changes

As of July 16, 2022, everyone in America will be able to call 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

10-digit dialing is the new standard

As part of the effort to implement the 988 dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as of 2021, individuals must dial 10 digits to place a call (area code + phone number), regardless of whether or not the call is local. Calls dialed with only 7 digits may not be completed—you must hang up and dial again using the area code.
Most people and businesses have already made the change to 10-digit dialing. All services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that were programmed to complete calls to 7-digit local numbers have been reprogrammed to include the area code. Some examples include life safety systems, fire and burglar alarms, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, and phone contact lists. Individuals and businesses have also had to update their websites, advertising materials, contact information, ID tags, and other similar items to include an area code.
There are no other changes to dialing at this time.

All other calling protocols remain the same

Good news—the following things will not change:
  • Your telephone number, including the current area code
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services
  • Local calls remain local regardless of the number of digits dialed
  • You will continue to dial 1+ area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services)
  • Any 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 services available in your community can still be reached by dialing their 3-digit codes
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), even after the 988 3-digit dialing code goes live.


What happens when you call the 988 Lifeline

The Lifeline is available to anyone who is in emotional distress or thinking about suicide. You can also call if you’re worried about a friend or loved one.
"No matter what problems you’re dealing with, whether or not you’re thinking about suicide, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call the Lifeline."

Calling the 988 Lifeline

If you dial 988 after July 16, 2022, your call will automatically connect you to the Lifeline. Here’s what to expect if you call 988:
  1. You’ll hear a recording that tells you you’ve reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  2. You can press “1” for the Veteran Crisis Line, “2” to speak to a Spanish-speaking counselor, or remain on the line to be routed a National Suicide Prevention crisis center.
  3. You’ll hear hold music while your call is connected.
  4. A trained counselor located at one of the 200+ crisis centers near you will answer the phone.
  5. The counselor will listen, work to understand what you’re experiencing, provide support, and share helpful resources.

Texting the 988 Lifeline

For some, calling 988 might not be an accessible or comfortable option. That’s why, starting July 16, 2022, telecommunications providers will support 988 SMS texting. The provider will redirect texts to 988 to the Lifeline, where trained counselors will provide support via text. Here’s what to expect if you text 988:
  1. You’ll receive a short survey that provides the crisis counselor with information about your situation.
  2. After you complete the survey, you’ll be connected to a trained counselor located at one of 200+ crisis centers.
  3. The counselor will text with you in real time to understand what you’re experiencing, provide support, and share helpful resources.


Area codes affected

In order for the 3-digit 988 calling code to work, the FCC required all providers to implement mandatory 10-digit dialing in certain areas where the local exchange (the middle three digits of a 10-digit number) is 988. For example, if your phone number is 123-988-1234, anyone attempting to dial that number locally using only a 7-digit code would be automatically redirected to the Lifeline before they finished dialing.
Thus, the FCC implemented mandatory 10-digit dialing in the area codes listed below, since they include local exchanges that would interfere with the new 3-digit Lifeline calling code. Most providers have already made the switch, but those who have not must implement 10-digit dialing codes no later than July 16, 2022.

StateArea CodeStateArea Code
Alaska907Minnesota218, 952
Alabama251Mississippi662
Arkansas501Missouri314, 417, 660, 816
Arizona480, 520, 928Montana406
California209, 530, 562, 626, 650, 707, 925, 949, 951Nevada775
Colorado79, 970New Jersey856, 908
Delaware302New Hampshire603
Florida321, 352, 561, 941New Mexico505, 575
Georgia478, 912New York516, 607, 716, 845, 914
Guam671North Carolina910
Hawaii808Ohio440, 513
Illinois309, 618, 708South Dakota605
Indiana219, 574Tennessee731, 865
Iowa319, 515Texas254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915, 940
Kansas620, 785Vermont802
Kentucky859Virginia276, 804
Louisana337, 504Washington509
Michigan616, 810, 906, 989Wisconsin262, 414, 608, 920



Further information

Telnyx worked with the North American Numbering Council’s (NANC) Numbering Administration Oversight Working Group (NAOWG) to find the best 3-digit code for the Lifeline.
If you’re a Telnyx customer, there will be no change in your dialing procedures—we’ve always supported 10-digit dialing codes. Starting on July 16, 2022, you can dial 988 from any Telnyx number, and Telnyx will direct your call or text to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Share on Social

Get Started for Free!

Sign Up Today and Your First $10 is on Us.