FCC suggests '988' as new suicide prevention hotline

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Communications Commission staffers recommended the agency designate “988” as a new phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in place of the current 10-digit number, the FCC said on Thursday.

The current phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. The 10-digit number received over 2 million calls in 2018, the FCC said.

A division of the FCC sent a report to Congress on Wednesday recommending the change to a shorter number because it “would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that he intends to propose regulations to create the new phone number.

In 2017, 47,173 people in the United States died by suicide, the 10th highest cause of death, and more than 1.4 million adults attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reporting by Bryan Pietsch; editing by Jonathan Oatis