You are more than likely very familiar with the number 911. You learn as a small child to dial that number when someone is hurt, needs assistance or there is a crime being committed.

This week the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) announced that they had approved another 3-digit phone number that could very well save lives in a different way. The number is 988 and it will automatically link people in crisis to operators that have been trained in suicide prevention and mental health.

Currently there are 163 centers across the United States that can be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, but by making access to these operators by having a 3-digit number that will soon be as memorable as 911, there is greater potential to save even more lives.

The vote that took place this week, does not mean that you will immediately be able to start calling that number. The next step is a public approval. The entire process could take up to 18-months before it becomes live.

Too bad that this process cannot be sped up.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

Thank you to NPR.org for supplying the inspiration to share this information.