10 digit dialing goes into effect to make room for suicide prevention lifeline

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INDIANAPOLIS — People in 82 area codes across the nation, including two in Indiana, are having to make a switch in the way they make phone calls.

Starting on Oct. 24, people calling numbers with a 219 or 574 area code will have to use all ten digits to dial. This comes as the FCC implements 988 as the nationwide three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

“From the time that we have young kids, we’re teaching them to memorize the numbers 911 to call in case of an emergency,” said Maggie Owens with the Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide. “When we’re talking about suicide prevention and the suicide crisis, having something that’s easy to remember, like 988, it’s going to eliminate some of that worry of what’s the number. 

The change comes after President Donald Trump signed into law the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. The legislation was put in place as suicide rates are at the highest they have been since World War II.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in the United States for youth aged 10-24. Owens says Indiana is the second leading state for suicide ideation.

“There is an increase in mental health concerns nationwide,” Owens said. “We’re seeing that in our youth, and so we know that there’s a need. We know that there’s prevention measures that are needed to take.”

Owens highlighted that legislators are working on getting mental health resource phone numbers on student ID cards. She says the easier it is for youth to have access to help, the more likely it is that they are going to utilize it.

The Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide offers monthly Question, Persuade, Refer workshops, giving people the resources they need to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives.

“Knowing that the more clues that you’re getting, whether it’s behavioral or situational, the more you have, the greater the risk that somebody is having a suicide crisis,” Owens said.

The 988 three-digit dialing code will be available nationwide by July 16, 2022. During the transition, 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.

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