Michiganders living in certain area codes will soon have to change the way they dial the phone.
The rollout of a new phone number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will affect certain Michigan telephone users. Callers with area codes 616, 810, 906 and 989 must start dialing phone numbers with 10 digits (the area code plus the phone number) beginning April 24, instead of just dialing the 7-digit phone number without the area code.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designated 988 as the abbreviated dialing code that can be used to reach the suicide prevention hotline. Officials expect the 988 dialing code to be active by July of 2022, and are preparing callers in certain area codes to begin changing the way they dial the phone to prevent any accidental calls.
“In many area codes across the country, 988 is already used as the prefix, or first three digits after the area code, of customer telephone numbers,” reads the Michigan Public Service Commission’s press release Thursday. “In order for 988 to dial directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, any area code that includes the 988 prefix must transition from 7-digit dialing (dialing without the area code) to 10-digit dialing (area code with the telephone number.”
According to officials, a “permissive period” will last from April 24 through Oct. 24, 2021 in which callers will still be connected to another line if they dial the 7-digit phone number -- but callers are encouraged to begin transitioning to the 10-digit dial rule as soon as possible.
The permissive period will end by the October deadline -- which means that by Oct. 24, all Michigan callers with area codes 616, 810, 906 and 989 must dial a 10-digit phone number to make local calls. After that time, individuals who attempt to make a phone call using only 7 digits will not be connected and must hang up and dial again using 10 digits.
Officials say callers with any other Michigan area code are not affected at this time.
“The schedule laid out by the FCC gives customers in the four affected area codes several months to adjust to the new requirement of dialing 10 digits,” said Ryan McAnany, acting director of the MPSC’s Telecommunications Division. “A smooth transition will help ensure customers stay connected while getting ready for the ultimate enactment of 988 as an easy number for people struggling or contemplating suicide to connect to resources and help in a crisis.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached any day at any time by calling 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The 988 abbreviated dialing code will not be active until July 16, 2022.
According to the MPSC, safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices and alarm security systems, must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing -- and not 7-digit dialing -- by the Oct. 24 deadline.
During this change, the following things will remain the same, as listed by the MPSC:
- Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
- The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change.
- What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
- You will continue to dial 1 plus the area code and the telephone number for all long-distance calls.
- You will continue to dial a prefix such as 9 when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (in a hotel or office building, for example) as required.
- You can still dial just three digits to reach 711 for relay services and 911 for emergency services.
- If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611 or 811 are currently available in your community, you may still dial these codes with just three digits.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.
More information and frequently asked questions can be found on the North American Numbering Plan Administrator’s website right here. Individuals can also contact their local provider with any questions regarding the change.
Help us report the story: How are you doing with your mental health?