President Trump Oct. 17 signed into law the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, designating 988 as the nationwide phone number to connect people experiencing mental health crises to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The Lifeline is a network of 163 crisis centers that last year answered more than 2.2 million calls and 100,000 online chats. The Federal Communications Commission in July designated the number for this purpose, meaning telecommunications carriers and one-way Voice over Internet Protocol service providers must direct 988 calls to 1-800-273-TALK (8255) by July 16, 2022.

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services must also develop a strategy to provide access to competent, specialized services for high-risk populations such as LGBTQ+ youth, minorities and individuals in rural communities.

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