Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses a 10-digit number, 800-273-TALK (8255), which routes calls to about 170 crisis centers. Phone companies have until July 2022 to implement the 988 number for both calling and texting. The FCC said Thursday that the country's largest cellphone companies AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon already support calling 988.
Suicide-prevention experts have said that the three-digit hotline could be a breakthrough that helps people in crisis. Suicide rates have largely been going up in the U.S. for the past two decades, although they dropped slightly last year, when nearly 45,000 people died by suicide.