The telephone exchanges 911, 999, 112 and 000 are well known emergency call numbers in the US Canada, Mexico and the Philippines; the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong; the EU; and Australia respectively.

Much of the success in the public uptake of dialing 3 digital numbers rather than longer standard numbers is that they are much easier to remember compared to having to locate written down numbers. In tests of such ‘shorthand’ call numbers, speed is a critical factor, frequently saving lives.

Soon there may be a specialized three-digit number for people in the US who are contemplating suicide: 988

As a result of a new law recently passed in the US, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, the US Federal Communications Commission (the FCC is the regulatory agency for TV, radio, short wave and most electronic communication technologies) has proposed the current 10 digit suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline number be replaced by the simpler, easier to remember 3 digit number 988.

Given that suicide rates has been climbing for many years in the US this can only be seen as a very necessary, good and likely to succeed idea.

You can read more about the proposal in the New York Times. You can also access the official FCC news release and/or the full FCC report on this breakthrough.


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