Mandatory 10-digit dialing (area code + number) begins October 24, 2021, in Virginia area codes 804 & 276. The dialing changes are needed to accommodate the new three-digit dialing number 988 for the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).
The NSPL is a critical emergency resource that connects Americans in crisis to suicide prevention and mental health counselors. It can currently be reached any time day or night at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Dialing the NSPL will get even easier starting July 16, 2022, when a three-digit number – 988 – begins operation. The new number was approved by the Federal Communications Commission last year.
Virginia is among 35 states and one U.S. territory that must start using 10-digit dialing to clear the way for use of the 988 national number next year. In the Richmond region (area code 804) and the Southwest Virginia region (area code 276), where local calls can now be made by dialing just 7 digits, many phone numbers start with "988." Since "988" will now be dedicated to NSPL, people in the affected area codes will now have to dial "804" or "276" at the beginning of all local calls. This is known as 10-digit dialing. (Note: Using a "1" before the area code will be needed only for long-distance calls.)
Optional 10-digit dialing began in area codes 804 and 276 in April for all local calls. On and after October 24, 2021, 10-digit dialing will be required for all calls. Local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform callers that their call cannot be completed as dialed.
Little else will change for telephone users inside the 804 and 276 area codes. During and after the transition to 988, the NSPL will continue to be available at the longer phone number as well: 1-800-273-8255. Other three-digit dialing services such as 211, 711, 811, and 911 will not be affected. Telephone numbers, area code numbers, coverage areas and local call boundaries will remain the same.
Suicidepreventionlifeline.org is another resource for people in crisis, and 911 is available for emergency situations.
For more information about phone service changes resulting from the NSPL’s upcoming 988 number, visit the FCC website at fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline or the SCC website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/988-Preparation.