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New 3-digit dial requirement: 988

Last Updated on February 5, 2021 by Jaron Davis

The basics

A few days ago, on July 17th, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission published a new order, FCC 20-100, requiring all phone providers implement 988 as a new emergency number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Lifeline, already in existence since December of 2004, is currently maintained by the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use as well as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The website can be found at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

I highly encourage you begin working to implement this into your dial plan.

The actual FCC order can be found here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-100A1.pdf

My key takeaways

  1. The new 3-digit dialing code (988) will be required for all telephony systems, including private VoIP PBX’s.
  2. Currently, all 988 calls should be routed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
  3. All providers must enable 10-digit dialing if not already implemented.
  4. All implementations must be completed no later than July 16, 2022.
  5. No call location requirements are needed, as required for 911 under Kari’s Law and Section 506 of Ray Baum’s Act, at this time.
  6. 988 will not currently support texting, however there are alternative text-based options, such as the Veterans Crisis Line (838255) and the Crisis Text Line (741741) that can be texted. I would recommend if you work in a medical facility, including this information with any news release or publications for patients.

How can I implement this in CUCM?

Before you really start evaluating how to implement this, determine if your service provider already accepts 988 calls or not. Odds are, they don’t yet, but will soon. Initiate that conversation and ask.

Next evaluate your current dial-plan. If you have a larger system, odds are you have extensions, or route patterns, or something within your dial plan that might start with 988. This is where it’s going to take some time to implement because you have to migrate those to other numbers that don’t start with 988.

For example, I use 4 digit dialing within my enterprise, therefor 9880 to 9889 can no longer be used within my dial plan because as soon as you dial 988 the call will complete to the national suicide prevention lifeline. So if John Smith in accounting previously had 9885, he will need a new extension.

If your service provider does accept 988:

You can build 988 into your dial plan in the same manner that you build 911 into your dial plan, and I would encourage you to do this. For each calling search space, including a 988 partition that includes a 988 route pattern. If you simply have an “emergency dialing” partition, just build your 988 route pattern into that.

If your service provider does not accept 988:

My recommendation, if your service provider does NOT accept 988 numbers, is to simply build a translation pattern in your main extensions partition(s) that translates 988 to dial out to 1-800-273-8255 similar to what you see below.

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Be sure to check the Urgent Priority checkbox so that when 988 is dialed your system does not wait for an interdigit timeout and dials immediately.

Final Note

If you or someone you know is in crisis with thoughts of suicide and needs help, by any means necessary contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Resources

What To Do If You Think a Person Is Having Suicidal Thoughts

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Wallet Card

References

(2020). Retrieved from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Federal Communications Commission. (2020, July 17). FCC 20-100. Retrieved from FCC.gov: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-100A1.pdf

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (2018, September). Support for Suicidal Individuals on Social and Digital Media. Retrieved from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/lifeline_socialmedia_toolkit.pdf

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