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President Trump signs law making 9-8-8 national suicide hotline starting in 2022

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 17, 2020

(KGTV) — Saturday, President Donald Trump signed a law approving the use of 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline starting in 2022.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which was passed by the U.S. House in September after being approved by the Senate and Federal Communications Commission, will allow individuals to dial the three digits 9-8-8 as opposed to the previous 10-digit hotline number, which is currently 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), CNN reported.

The new number will take effect in July 2022.

The bill allows states to collect fees aimed at ensuring local crisis centers can support increased volume and directs federal health agencies to submit a report to Congress on strategies to improve support services for LGBTQ youth, minorities, and individuals in rural counties, who are at a higher risk for suicide.

In 2019, the FCC estimated that the costs of implementing a three-digit hotline for the first year would be about $570 million and $175 million in the second year, which includes costs for call-center capacity and public awareness campaign. The agency stressed, however, that the "benefits of this action are quite likely to outweigh the costs."

The new number will not come with a texting option, but the FCC said in July it will look into the capability for that if it becomes available.

Anyone who needs help now can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and text "HOME" to 741741 for the crisis line. Crisis support in Spanish is available at 1-888-628-9454.

CNN contributed to this report.