With the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline getting its own three-digit dialing number — 988 — the Florida Public Service Commission announced recently that areas where that number is already in use will be required to transition to 10-digit dialing.
Where 988 is an existing prefix (the first three numbers of a 7-digit local phone number), customers will need to start using an area code for all calls to ensure that local calls to phone numbers beginning with 988 are not routed to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline by mistake. Affected area codes include Palm Beach County’s 561, along with several others in Florida.
“We’re in a two-year transition to solve the challenges of implementing this nationwide suicide prevention effort,” PSC Chairman Gary Clark said. “This includes the need for widespread programming changes and provides time for people and businesses to prepare.”
The Federal Communications Commission designated the 988 three-digit abbreviated dialing code for individuals to quickly access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. FCC rules require all phone service providers to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. The lifeline will also continue to use its current number, (800) 273-8255.
Beginning April 24, 2021, permissive dialing starts so that consumers and businesses can begin the process of reprogramming equipment (if needed) and get accustomed to dialing 10 digits. The end of the permissive dialing period is Oct. 24, 2021.
For more information, visit www.floridapsc.com.