The Federal Communications Commission has designated 988 as the service number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline effective July 16, 2022.
As a result, starting October 24, 2021, all local phone calls on Guam must include the 671- area code.
When it comes to suicide prevention and mental health aid, every second matters. Right now, if a loved one wanted to take the courageous step to ask for help, they would have to dial 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. A number too long to remember in times of crisis. Beginning July of next year, when you have an urgent mental health need, you’ll call just 3 digits - “988"; similar to “911” for police, fire, or rescue emergencies.
To make this possible, all area codes within the United States that have phone numbers beginning with “988” will now require the area code to be dialed first, followed by the local telephone number (for example: 671-988- XXXX). This prevents calls to the National Suicide Lifeline from being automatically triggered and placed. Guam is amongst 82 area codes that need to make this local call transition. By October 24, 2021, all phone numbers will remain the same, but “671” will need to be entered in the beginning.
In a joint effort, all Guam’s service providers have supplied constant reminders through instore flyers, social medial content, company websites, and advertisements since June 2021. By October 24, 2021, calls dialed in Guam without the “671” prefix will receive an error message prompting the caller to try again.
- Go through your contact list and add “671” in the beginning of all local phone numbers.
- Reprogram all numbers on life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarms and security systems or gates.
- For business customers: Be sure to check websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks for contact information and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
For more information on the 988 project at Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, you can contact Joleen Respicio, Project Director, at 671-482-7679.
“Mental health is a big issue that affects our island. We know there will be some initial frustration with the 10-digit dialing at first, but the benefits of a short code “988” in times of crisis will outweigh that on many levels. Your Island Carriers will be combining our resources and working together to make the transition seamless.”
“Uniting with our local telecom providers to educate our island about mandatory 10-digit dialing is critical. It gives customers adequate time to check and reprogram electronics and other equipment to incorporate 10-digit phone numbers. The permissive dialing period given by all local telecom companies here on Guam also allows customers to become acclimated to dialing 10-digits instead of 7 and ensures that our community is fully prepared for the significant change this year. The implementation of ‘988’ as the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline is a positive step for our community and further connects them to life-saving resources.”
“The time is quickly approaching for all Guam residents to include the area code with every phone call. Our partnership with DOCOMO and GTA has been instrumental for helping the community adjust to the new dialing procedure and educating the community about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. To help with the transition, we encourage all residents to update their contact lists to include 671 and to take the suggested steps to make sure that all life safety systems, medical monitoring devices, security systems and other devices will continue to work as intended.”