988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Preparing for the Transition to the 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline

On July 16, 2020, the FCC adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The rules require phone service providers1 to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. To ensure that calls to 988 reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, certain parts of the country will need to transition to 10-digit dialing.

What does this mean for consumers?

There will be a new dialing procedure for areas of the country that use 7-digit dialing and use 988 as the first three numbers in seven-digit phone numbers. To complete all local non-mobile calls, consumers will need to dial their area code + telephone number. This applies to all calls within area codes that are currently dialed with seven digits and have 988 as the first three digits.

Who will be affected by this change?

  • Anyone with a telephone number in certain areas codes will need to change from 7-digit local dialing to 10-digit local dialing; in Virginia, the affected area codes are 276 and 804.
  • Mobile callers will be unaffected (as mobile calls already require 10-digit dialing).

When will change begin?

  • Beginning April 24, 2021, you should begin dialing 10 digits (area code + telephone number) for all local non-mobile calls.  If you forget and dial just 7 digits, your call will still be completed.
  • Beginning October 24, 2021, you must dial 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls. On and after this date, local calls dialed with only 7-digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed.  You must hang up and dial again using the area code and the 7-digit number.
  • Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route your call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

During the transition to 988, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats. Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.

Important links


1 These rules apply to all telecommunications carriers and interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, including one-way VoIP providers.