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Dialing moves to 10-digits to support direct dial to national suicide hotline

PIERRE, SD – While most smart devices already include the numbers, it will soon be mandatory to include all 10-digits when calling any local phone number.

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson says the move is to make way for a national suicide hotline. “The federal communication commission, rightly, wants to establish an easy to remember , easy to understand number for folks to call to get the National Suicide Prevention Hotline,” he explains.  “The number they have chosen is 988.  They want that number to be as  well-known as 911.  So if a family member or a friend has a concern about suicide, they can call 988 and get help immediately.”

Nelson says those three numbers have to be able to stand alone.  “In order to do that they have to clear that number from any place where it’s currently being used,” he says. “There are probably 35 states where 988 is one of the three-digit numbers that precede a telephone number. South Dakota is one of those places.” He adds, “In order to make this number work, nationwide, everyone in the country is going to have to move to a 10-digit dialing scenario.”

According to the PUC Chairman, the change to 10-digits will start soon.  “The Federal Communications Commission is asking people to voluntarily start using 10-digits beginning April 24, 2021,” says Nelson.   “Individual telephone companies will be requiring the use of the 10-digits  sometime between October 2021 and July 2022. The telephone company that provides you service, will give you the exact dates  that you will be required to use those 10-digits  moving forward.”

Starting in July, calling 988 will route calls to the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.

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