Health: The 988 Emergency Number & Mental Health

The Story:

T-Mobile, part of the Deutsche Telecom empire, has acted in support for a new emergency number being instituted by the US FCC. The FCC voted in July 2020 to make 988 the number connecting phones in the US to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). The order gave carriers two years to put it into effect, so T-Mobile is acting a year and a half ahead of the mandate.

One FCC Commissioner has expressed concern that the 988 number isn’t able to receive text messages, and that voice service may not be intuitive for many young people.


The NSPL is a network of crisis centers that provides 24/7 telephonic assistance to people in suicidal ideation or calling in on behalf of a loved one facing such a crisis. It was one component of a suicide prevention initiative launched sixteen years ago by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

There is a parallel system administered by the VA for vets in emotional crisis. As the 988 system is implemented, veterans who so desire may be routed to the VA system simply by pressing 1 after pressing 988.

In Pill Form:

The older 800 phone number for the NSPL service remains available. Those in crisis can still dial 1-800-271-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Or they can access online chats.

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