By Carole Wirszyla | March 24, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT – Updated March 25 at 12:05 AM
SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. (WECT) – A 3-digit phone number — 988 — for suicide prevention and mental health crisis assistance that the Federal Communications Commission approved for nationwide use in July 2020 is being rolled out in some parts of the country beginning April 24, 2021.
The 910 prefixes are currently the only North Carolina numbers impacted by the April 24 rollout.
Once active, people will be able to dial 988 to seek help in the same way they can call 911 for emergency services.
This could be a life saver for many of the one in five adults who experience mental illness every year. It could also help people dealing with substance abuse disorder or addiction. According to the FCC, since 2008, suicide has ranked as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.
For the new 3-digit phone number to become active, states have to implement 10-digit (versus 7-digit) local dialing first.
Although the change to 10-digit dialing for calls prefixed by 910 begins April 24, 7-digit local calls will still be completed until October 24. After that, you will get a message saying your call cannot be completed as dialed.
So, any services that are automatically programmed to dial 7-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed by that date.
Equipment that may need to be reprogrammed includes medical monitoring devices, life safety systems, PBXs, fax machines, fire or burglar alarms, security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forward settings, and voicemail services.
Switching to an easy-to-remember 988 as the ’911′ for suicide prevention and mental health crisis services will make it easier for Americans in crisis to access the help they need and decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health issues.
Nationwide, all phone service providers will have to make necessary network changes by July 16, 2022.
For more information about these upcoming changes, call 888-211-4727 for mobile service or 877-877-8748 for landline service.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.