988 to become the new 911 for suicide prevention

SANTA FE – The State of New Mexico reminds residents that beginning Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, everyone in the state of New Mexico will need to include the area code as 10-digits will be required for all phone calls. 

On and after Oct. 24, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording may inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed. If you get this recording, you must hang up and dial again using the area code with the seven-digit telephone number.

This change is necessary as the Federal Communications Commission has mandated 988 as the new three-digit number to route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Mental Crisis Hotline (1-800-273-TALK).  According to the bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, telephone service providers must have this routing in place by July 15, 2022.

Some phone carriers in the state (like Verizon and T-Mobile) have already implemented the routing for 988.

“The 988 three-digit will be used to make critical mental health resources available to anyone who needs assistance,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “While the 911 system is dedicated to public safety emergencies, the launch of the 988 hotline gives people an easy-to-remember number to call for focused support during behavioral health emergencies.” 

988 is not yet active across all communications access points in the United States. If you or someone you know is in crisis now, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. For more information on ten-digit dialing, please contact the FCC. For more information about the Lifeline and 988, please visit vibrant.org/988. 

New Mexico already has the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line (1-855-662-7474) and Agora Crisis Center (1-855-505-4505) accredited and answering calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

“It’s a minor inconvenience to reprogram the area code 505 or 575 in our phones but it will make a huge difference if it will save a life and someone can call 988 when they’re having a mental health crisis,” said Dr. David Scrase, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department and acting secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health.

“There’s been a great need for 988 for years,” said Dr. Neal Bowen, director for the Behavioral Health Services Division at the New Mexico Human Services Department. “We are working diligently with our partners at the 911 PSAPs, NMCAL, Agora, and OpenBeds, a provider of a technology platform that identifies, unifies, and tracks behavioral health and social services resources to facilitate rapid digital referrals. We are also mapping out the development of more mobile crisis and behavioral health-oriented triage response centers throughout our state.”

“By implementing 988 into our communities it allows people that choice to determine if they need to call 911 for police or fire to respond, or if they need a mental health conversation or a mental health response which will be available by dialing 988,” said Wendy Linebrink-Allison, program manager for ProtoCall Services, Inc, which runs the state funded crisis lines and warmline. 

The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 1,042,799 New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, SNAP, Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.

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