The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will introduce the new emergency number ‘988’ which will become the new ‘suicide prevention’ number in the United States. Just as 911 connects people in need of first-responders for other emergencies, U.S. residents will be able to call 988 for help in a mental health emergency.
“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” says Dwight Holton, the CEO of a suicide prevention nonprofit. He hopes that the introduction of 988 will further remove the typical stigma surrounding mental health.
The new emergency number aims to ease the pressure on 911 services, which currently is being used to address all kinds of emergencies. Additionally, having a unique number for mental health necessities means that more helpers are able to assist from the other side of the line.
In the next 18 months, telephone service providers have to accommodate the number. Full operation nationwide should be expected in the coming year.