988 suicide phone hotline getting $282M to ease July launch

WASHINGTON (AP) — People in crisis and those trying to help them will have a new three-digit phone number, 988, to reach the national suicide prevention network starting in July. Federal health officials announced Monday more than $280 million to smooth the transition from the current 10-digit number, 800-273-8255.

Three-digit dialing to reach suicide hotline counselors has been a goal for mental health advocates, lawmakers in Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Biden administration says it wants to deliver an on-schedule launch this summer.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says remembering a three-digit number “beats a ten-digit number any day,” particularly in a crisis.