What did we do before cell phones? A long time ago, it was this, and for a pretty good reason, we're going back to it.

You can't exactly argue with the reasoning behind an upcoming inconvenience that will happen for many of those in the 319 and 515 area codes in Iowa.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is getting set to implement a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the three digits it will comprise (988) may coincide with prefixes in certain area codes. So, as of October 24, 2021, people in those area codes will be required to include it when dialing out. Yes, that includes numbers already saved on your phone. If you don't, the call may not go through, and you will get a recording telling you as such. Once you get that recording, you'll be told to hang up and start over, using the ten-digit number including area code.

You certainly don't want to mistakenly dial a number starting with "988" and be directed to the new suicide hotline.  You may not think you very often use a number with the prefix "988" but Iowa's News Now says there are 82 area codes in 35 states and one United States territory that use it, also known as a local exchange code or "central office code".

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Officials are suggesting you start getting used to it before October 24 by dialing the area code plus phone number to make calls, and re-enter numbers with the area code to save in your phone contacts.

As big of a hassle as it sounds, it's being done to assist those in distress with a quicker way to get the help they need. I'm not sure I can complain about that.

Meanwhile, the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached at (800)273-8255. Reach out to them if you need help now.

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