La Crosse-area residents required to dial 10-digit phone calls starting Sunday

The Coulee Region's area code, 608, also includes numbers with the digits 988 in them. Starting next July, 988 is becoming the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Many people in Wisconsin, including those in our area, will be required to dial their own area code with every phone call within their own areas beginning Sunday.

The Coulee Region’s area code, 608, also includes phone numbers with the digits 9-8-8. The first three digits in a seven-digit phone call is called the exchange code.

Starting in July, 9-8-8 will become the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, so the Federal Communications Commission is laying the groundwork for this change.

If you are someone who is struggling, people at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are working around the clock to support you.

The number to reach them now is (800) 273-8255.

But starting next July, all you will have to do is dial 9-8-8, and you will be connected to someone who can help.

“I think overall what it’s going to do is make it an easier number to remember,” Great Rivers 2-1-1 supervisor Amy Kuester said.

Deaths by suicide are on the uptick over the last couple of years.

The most recent data from the La Crosse County Medical Examiner’s office shows 20 people have taken their own lives  this year.

Last year, that number was 17.

“We want to see a reduction in the amount of suicides,” Kuester said.

Kuester says she believes a shorter number will get more people across the country to call for aid if they’re in a bad place.

“We can only hope that it will make the impact that it’s intended to,” Kuester said.

It can be difficult for some to dial such an easy number, but Kuester assures you these people are here to help.

“You’re going to get somebody who’s non-judgmental, that is able to listen, and really try to help you sort things out and support you for whatever you’re going through,” Kuester said.

Whether you dial 2-1-1 or soon — 9-8-8 — all it takes is one phone call if you’re in crisis to get help.

The FCC says 82 area codes across 35 states are making the change to 10-digit dialing this weekend.

That includes all 608 numbers in southwestern Wisconsin, 414 numbers in Milwaukee, 262 area codes in the southeastern Wisconsin area, and 920 numbers in the eastern Wisconsin area.

There are plenty of resources if you’re looking for mental support right now. More information is below.

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