LUBBOCK, Texas — Starting on October 24, many West Texas area codes, including 806, will need to dial the full, 10-digit number in order to complete a phone call. It’s all part of a nationwide plan to officially launch the new ‘988’ three-digit lifeline for those who may be in mental distress.
Jayne Whisnant with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said it’s about making mental help more accessible.
“If you were in a physical health crisis, or if you were in some sort of criminal issue where your life is threatened, you would call 911,” Whisnant said. “Right now, there is not an established three digit number for a mental health crisis.”
Dr. Alan Korinek, the Director of the Counseling Center at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said a simple change of switching the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273-8255 to 988 could possibly save lives.
“I’m hopeful that lives will be saved,” Dr. Korinek said, ”People that are in crisis will remember those three numbers and dial those three numbers and start talking to somebody who cares who can give them some support and can proverbially talk them off the ledge.”
The reason why Lubbockites must dial 806 before the rest of the number is because some numbers start with 988. If one was to dial those three digits without an area code in front, they would get the suicide hotline once it goes into place, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The new national suicide number will go into effect next July. Until then, people are directed to use the full lifeline.