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T-Mobile activates 988 for emergency mental health services

Providers have until 2022 to add support for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
November 20, 2020
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fizkes via Getty Images

T-Mobile customers can now call 988 to access free emergency mental health services. It added support for the number more than 18 months ahead of the deadline that the Federal Communications Commission set for providers to do so. 

In July, the FCC voted to designate 988 as the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It gave phone service providers until July 2022 to ensure they direct all 988 calls to the NSPL. It should be easier to remember than the NSPL's ten-digit number. You can also contact the lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) or using online chats.

The 988 service will connect callers to the NSPL's network of around 180 local- and state-funded crisis centers across the US for free mental health support. However, there's no option to text the number. If you try to do that, T-Mobile will send you a bounce-back message that advises you to call instead.

T-Mobile says it's the first major provider to add support for the three-digit number. Engadget has contacted AT&T and Verizon (Engadget's parent company) for details on their 988 rollout plans.

Update (7 PM ET): In a statement, an AT&T spokesperson said it’s working on providing 988 access for wireless customers “in the months ahead.” “The three-digit 988 hotline dialing code is a critical feature for Americans in crises. We’ve already implemented this feature for the majority of our traditional wireline customers, and 988 will be available for our wireless customers in the months ahead.”

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