LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Louisiana residents living in 337 and 504 area codes will soon have to dial 10 digits when making all phone calls.
Eighty-two area codes around the country are transitioning to 10-digit dialing as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to enable 988 to be used to reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a change suicide prevention specialists are hopeful for.
Six years ago to the day, Jody Barilleaux shares her family’s story of pain and tragedy.
“My daddy shot himself in the front yard at my mom and dad’s house,” says Barilleaux. “Whatever my daddy was going through - he didn’t wanna die, but he wanted his pain to end.”
Barilleaux is among of coalition of others working to help prevent this from inflicting pain onto other families.
“My dad was a cool dude,” Barilleaux said. “He was a cowboy who loved working with cattle. So, when we got the news that he died by suicide, it was really so very unexpected. Some cases it’s like that and some cases are not.”
Suicide prevention specialists like Anastasia Armstrong say each case is different.
“I’m not only a survivor of a loved one who has attempted suicide, but I’m also a survivor of an attempted suicide myself,” says Armstrong.
One tool they both believe helps in prevention of suicide is a help hotline. A 1-800 number exists now, but soon that help will just be three digits away.
To make that happen, some areas of the country must change to 10-digit dialing starting April 24, 2021. Suicide survivors say making that call could save a life.
“A number somebody can call, if it’s nothing else but to just be a distraction for them or give them that extra thought process, that can maybe stop the thought of what they’re fixing to do [can help],” says Barilleaux.
“That number is going to be utilized, and I think it’s going to be a really great way to give opportunity to folks who are in a crisis,” Armstrong said. “Instead of looking for a number or struggling with a number that is 10-digits, they’ll be able to dial that quick number.”
Having a three digit number may not save everyone, but Barilleaux says every bit counts.
“There’s so many stigmas to suicide,” she says. “I want to shout loud and proud. I want to talk about my daddy. This is not a subject everyone just wants to openly speak about. When we do it, we do it as a group to help those we know are going through the same process. And talking about it will help you in your grief journey.”
Two of the affected area codes in Louisiana will be the 337 area code for Southwest Louisiana and 504 for New Orleans.
For a few months, calls made with seven digits will continue to go through.
But those calls will stop going through on Oct. 24, 2021, and only calls made using 10 digits will be completed.
The 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is expected to be put into place on July 16, 2022.
The FCC says that during the transition, Americans who need help should continue to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) or through online chats. Veterans and service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net, or texting 838255.
Read more about the change HERE.
See a full list of area codes switching to 10-digit dialing HERE.