Callers in 35 states and one U.S. territory will switch to 10-digit dialing starting Sunday, as the federal government prepares an easier emergency option to access the national suicide prevention hotline.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 82 area codes in 35 states and one US territory used “988” as their local exchange and allow seven-digit dialing. A local exchange, also known as an exchange code, consists of the first three digits of a seven-digit telephone number.
UNC CHAPEL HILL CANCELED CLASSES AMID SUICIDE FEAR AND MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
“To prepare for the implementation of a quick way to dial the national suicide prevention lifeline – using only ‘988’ to connect callers to the lifeline – these area codes should be switched to dialing at ten digits for all calls, including local calls, ”the FCC said on its website.
This means that callers in 82 area codes will need to dial the recipient’s area code first before adding their regular phone number. After October 22, local calls made with only seven digits may not connect. Ten-digit dialing has been available in these area codes since April 2020, but until Sunday, seven-digit calls are still connected.
In 2020, the FCC established “988” as the new nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The new three-digit dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022 and “will provide an easy-to-remember and dial-up three-digit number to reach suicide prevention and mental health counselors, similar to “911” for emergencies and “311” for local government services, “the FCC said.
It comes after a new Pentagon report released earlier this month showed suicides among active U.S. military forces jumped 46% in the last quarter compared to the same period last year. .
The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill also announced earlier this month that it would cancel classes for 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students after campus police investigated a possible suicide and on what she believed to be a suicide attempt the previous weekend.
In a letter to the university, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the school was in the midst of a mental health crisis, noting that college-aged students “are at increased risk of suicide “.
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or in emotional distress, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line (START text at 741- 741).
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller, Lucas Y. Tomlinson and Julia Musto contributed to this report.