Starting Sunday in New Hampshire, the seven-digit telephone call will go the way of the dinosaur.

The 603 area code will need to preface all calls made to New Hampshire numbers. Those who forget will get a recording informing, “This call cannot be completed as dialed.”

Ten-digit dialing is being required to clear the way for a new 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that is to start on July 16. Before that date, the lifeline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)

Some New Hampshire numbers now begin with 988, so, without the change, many calls would go to the hotline in error.

New Hampshire is one of 33 states that is making the change, said Mark Doyle, director of the New Hampshire Department of Safety Division of Emergency Services and Communications.

“People need to be aware of this, we don’t want people caught off guard,” Doyle said.

The simplicity of dialing 9-8-8, is intended to help with the growing problem of suicide.

“It’s really starting to get to a point where a lot of folks are reaching out to get the help they need with mental health or behavioral health, which is a good thing,” Doyle said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates increased 33% between 1999 and 2019, with a small decline in 2019.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for more than 47,500 deaths in 2019, which is about one death every 11 minutes.

The number of people who think about or attempt suicide is even higher, the CDC said. In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.

Automatic dialing equipment, or anything programmed to complete calls to seven-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed. This could also include medical monitoring devices, fax machines, security systems, speed dialers and mobile phone contact lists, among other things.

Unaffected by the change will be existing three-digit numbers such as 9-1-1 for police, fire or medical emergencies and 2-1-1 for information and referrals to Health and Human Services and social assistance programs.

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