In October 2020, the Federal National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S. 2661) became law. This was a historic victory for the suicide prevention community and a national recognition of the importance of responding to suicide and the mental health crisis.
The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act (H.R. 2345) became law. This initial legislation called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to report on the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (“Lifeline,” 1-800-273-8255).
The FCC, in conjunction with SAMHSA, indicated that the 988 dialing code would be the optimal three-digit number for the Lifeline and that additional resources would be necessary to support crisis call centers responding to 988 callers.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S. 2661) was introduced to support the designation and implementation of the 988 dialing code and strengthen local crisis response capacity to adequately meet 988 service demand. Local crisis call centers are chronically underfunded and under-resourced; many localities are not equipped to respond to current crisis call volume, much less any projected increases once 988 becomes widely available.
The FCC officially designated 988 as the three-digit dialing code for the Lifeline – to be nationally available by July 2022.
September – October 2020:
During Suicide Prevention Month, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act passed through Congress unanimously. It was signed into law by President (Trump) in October 2020. (1)
Recognizing that texting is critical to Americans, particularly young people and those who are deaf, have hearing loss or speech disabilities, The Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to require a texting option as well. (2)
The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced:
- $282 million in grants available to support 988 efforts
- $177 million to strength and expand the existing Lifeline network operations and telephone infrastructure, including such services as a network for Spanish speakers,
- $105 million to build up staffing in states’ local crisis call centers (3)
JULY 16, 2022
988 WILL BE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE ACROSS THE UNITED STATES
When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counsellors that are part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. These trained counsellors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.
The current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally.
The Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers, across the United States has been in operation since 2005, and has been proven to be effective. It is the counsellors at these local crisis centers who answer the contacts the Lifeline receives every day. Numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counsellor. (4)
The hotline would reduce stigma and save lives, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
SUICIDE – 10th LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE UNITED STATES
33% increase in the past 20 years
Mr. Pai said: “988 has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number. We believe that this three-digit number dedicated for this purpose will help ease access to crisis services.” (5)
Resources are going to have to increase as well so that people’s calls and texts are answered.
Hannah Weslowski, Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness
Suicide rates have largely been going up in the U.S. for the past two decades… (2)
2.1 million callers dialed the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (3)
Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Professor Margarita Alegria worries about state-by-state difference growing “when the US faces a mental health crisis, particularly among youth, now compounded by COVID.”
“Inequities state to state cost lives and could lead to needless deaths, particularly for people of color who disproportionately have no good service alternatives during these crises,” Alegria said.
46,000 Suicide deaths in the United States in 2020
34,941 calls answered by the State of Washington of 47,157 calls to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
515 calls were answered by the State of Wyoming out of a total of 3,228
“When calls are re-routed to centers out-of-state, callers in crisis often wait two to three times longer, receive fewer linkages to effective local care and are more likely to abandon their calls,” Lifeline said in the report. (3)
Well we got President Trump to thank for signing this important hotline for the nation into law.
We all think we are evolving and advancing as a race of beings.
So how come in the past 2 decades, we have a substantial rise in Suicide in one of our biggest nations in the world?
What gives rise to anyone wanting to even consider taking their own life?
How bad have things got that a person no longer wants to live and breathe on this earth?
Are we certain now that we have a designed emergency number that this will be backed with adequate resources and continuous funding to address the rise?
Time to get Real and wake up – we have a 988 emergency on our hands and it is not looking like it’s coming down in the near future.
Anyone calling 988 will want to be sure there is someone on the other end but we are being warned by the Director of Government Relations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness that an increase in resources is going to have to happen.
988 is necessary to meet the demand
The Real Truth about Suicide is the title of our forensic blog on the topic of Suicide, which includes facts and stats.
The author is presenting many Questions that need to be considered so that we can get to the root cause of WHY and HOW anyone gets to the point of even contemplating suicide as a movement to end this life.
(1) (n.d). The State of 988. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Retrieved June 16, 2022 from
(2) Arbel, T. (2021, November 18). New ‘988’ Suicide-Prevention Hotline Must Have a Texting Option, Regulators Say. USA Today. Retrieved June 16. 2022 from
(3) Goldberg. B. (2022, January 14). U.S. Suicide Hotline 988 is Set to Go Live, But Many States May Not Be Ready. Reuters. Retrieved June 16, 2022 from
(4) (n.d). The Lifeline and 988. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Retrieved June 16, 2022 from
(5) (2019, December 13). Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Hotline – 988 – Given Green Light in US. BBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2022 from