The FCC approved in July 2020 a short-hand number, 988, to help those facing a mental or emotional crisis. The FCC's order will require 82 area codes nationwide to dial 10 digits instead of seven when making a local call, including residents in Acadiana.
The counselors at the Family Tree in Lafayette say this three-digit number will not only save lives but help with the stigma of mental health.
"It's really going to open the door, that suicide continues to happen every single day. Now, we have a number that’s easily accessible, just like 911" said suicide prevention coordinator, Brittney Williams.
Brittney Williams, a suicide prevention coordinator at the Family Tree who works to bring awareness and resources to Acadiana, says dialing 988 comes at a time when it is most needed.
“The CDC gave a good glimpse of people within that young adult age group 15-24 that seriously contemplated suicide," said Williams.
Working to address the problem, a six-month permissive dialing period begins April 24th. Following that is a mandatory dialing enforcement period in October, during which phone carriers can start enforcing mandatory 10-digit dialing. 988 will be phased in between October 2021 and July 2022, with calls to 988 rerouting during that time to the suicide prevention line. The 1-800 number will be phased out in July 2022, with the transition being fully complete on July 16, 2022.
“The bigger picture is to make sure that everyone knows that suicide can be prevented as well as knowing how it can be prevented.”
Until this 3 digit number goes into full effect, counselors urge people to keep using that 1-800 number that is open 24/7, free, and confidential.