The changes, which will affect thousands of California residents, stem from federal rules that will make it easier for callers to access crisis resources.
Callers who have a 988 central or “central office code” – the first three digits of a seven-digit phone number – will first need to dial the area code of a desired number, followed by the remaining seven digits. , to terminate their connections.
The change was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission in July 2020 when it established 988 as the new national three-digit telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In the United States, 82 area codes will be upgraded to 10-digit numbering to facilitate the change.
Currently the National lifeline for suicide prevention uses the toll-free number (800) 272-8255 to connect to a large network of approximately 180 crisis centers nationwide.
According to the FCC, the changes “will help ensure the ubiquitous deployment of 988, thereby facilitating access to suicide prevention and crisis intervention services, reducing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health crises, and, ultimately saving lives ”.
In California, the following area codes will change to 10-digit numbering:
- 209: Stockton, Modesto and its surroundings
- 530: Northern California regions including the Sacramento Valley, Shasta Cascade, and northern Sierra Nevada
- 562: Long Beach and its surroundings in Orange County
- 626: most of the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding areas, including Pasadena
- 650: most of San Mateo County and part of Santa Clara County, including Palo Alto
- 707: the north coast, including Santa Rosa, Napa and Vallejo
- 925: areas of the East Bay and parts of Alameda County
- 949: southern Orange County
- 951: parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties
Residents residing in these area codes will need to dial 10 digits for all calls, including local numbers. Calls made using only seven digits will not be processed; users will be prompted to hang up and try again using the correct 10-digit format.
Some callers may also be required to manually add a 1 before the three-digit area code, including those dialing from landlines or landline phones. Most cell phones already automatically add a 1 in front of a dialed area code.
Although the change takes effect this weekend, the lifeline numbering shortcut will not take effect until July 16. At that time, callers dialing 988 will automatically be directed to the Suicide Prevention Hotline.