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New Law Establishes ‘988’ as Mental Health Crisis Hotline

October 20, 2020

Legislation that will establish “988” as the universal telephone number to reach the United States’ suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system has been signed into law.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 was signed by President Donald Trump on October 17, 2020.

The number will be active nationwide by July 2022, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Until then, people in crisis should continue to call the existing number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

“This easy-to-remember number will increase public access to mental health and suicide prevention crisis resources, encourage help-seeking for individuals in need, and is a crucial entry point for establishing a continuum of crisis care,” AFSP chief executive officer Robert Gebbia said in a statement from the organization.

"This is why AFSP applauds the U.S. Congress for prioritizing suicide prevention through unanimous passage of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. This historic legislation, now law, will bring our mental health crisis response system into the 21st century,” Gebbia added. “We are encouraged by the federal government's dedication to preventing this leading cause of death and showing all Americans that mental health is just as important as physical health.”


Bill Announcement. The White House website. Published October 17, 2020. Accessed October 20, 2020.

Nation's largest suicide prevention organization celebrates National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661) becoming law [press release]. Washington, DC: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; October 19, 2020.

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