On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules establishing “988” as the new, nationwide, three-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The rules require phone service providers to direct all 988 calls and text messages to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.
All 988 calls will be directed to the previous Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), which will still be available to use during and after 988 adoption. The switch to a three-digit number makes it easier for individuals to remember when experiencing a crisis.
Customers serving as their own PBX administrators will be required to configure their systems to immediately route 988 calls to the Lifeline service, regardless of where the phone is located. This will require administrators to appropriately modify the system dial plan and digit mapping which will depend on the specific PBX configuration and Internet Protocol (IP) phones.
Each handset vendor will have specific requirements for modifying digit maps to ensure 988 is routed immediately to the PBX. Ensure the call is routed through the PBX to a carrier capable of connecting the call with the Lifeline service. Administrators will need to ensure that when the PBX receives a call for 988, that call is routed in accordance with the carrier’s requirements to utilize the Lifeline service.
Service Members, Veterans, and their families may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by texting 838255, or through an online chat portal on the Veterans Crisis Line’s website, www.veteranscrisisline.net.
To learn more, here is the FCC 988 Fact Sheet.