3-Digit National Suicide Hotline by 2021

People in the United States know to call 911 in an emergency, but what about the National Suicide Hotline number? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to debut 988 as the new national suicide hotline in 2021.

The long National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number can be difficult for people to remember in the midst of a crisis. At 1-800-273-TALK (8255), it’s long and very similar to other local crisis lines, such as Colorado Crisis Services (1-844-493-8255).

The new 3-digit number and associated campaign will also aim to bridge people’s understanding about mental health and well-being. “The… number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in crisis,” says Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, a suicide prevention nonprofit. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.”

A shorter number reduces obstacles to accessing critical care in times of great need. The FCC says that the new 3-digit number “would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.”

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement, “Anything we can do to break down barriers, to make it easier for conversations about mental health and counseling to feel within reach, is something we should do.”

Trying to Reduce the Rate of Suicide

Suicide rates increased in 49 of 50 states from 1999 to 2016, with an increase greater than 20% in more than half of those states, the FCC says. Rates are higher across several at-risk populations, including veterans and LGBT communities.

Providing easier access to life-saving care, like dialing 988, can be the difference in saving a life.

Currently, suicide ranks as the 10th leading cause of death in the US. We consider it a public health emergency. The Mental Health Center of Denver also has a suicide prevention program that offers additional resources for community members.

Colorado Crisis Services

In Colorado, you can also access 24/7 crisis services if you are in crisis or need help dealing with one. Call toll-free to speak to a trained professional at 844-493-TALK (8255). If you don’t feel comfortable calling, you can also text TALK to 38255 or visit a 24/7 walk-in center for in-person crisis support at any of the Colorado Crisis Services locations. Visit the Colorado Crisis Services website for more information.