WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The Senate unanimously passed this legislation in May, and it will now go to the president to be signed into law.
This legislation would statutorily designate 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which would include the Veterans Crisis Line for veteran-specific mental health support. The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line is 10-digits long, which is a barrier to Americans in crisis seeking support.
“This legislation provides an easy-to-remember number and easy-to-access service for people in need of a helping hand,” said Senator Moran. “I commend members of the House for passing this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues and the FCC to make certain 9-8-8 is implemented quickly and effectively once signed into law.”
“With approval from the House of Representatives today, our bipartisan bill to create a three-digit suicide hotline and make it easier for Americans dealing with a mental health crisis to receive life-saving support is now another step closer to becoming reality,” said Senator Gardner. “I’ve held countless meetings and roundtables with families, students, mental health care professionals, law enforcement officials, and others to address our state’s mental health needs. The tragic fact is we lose a Coloradan to death by suicide every seven hours, and we must keep fighting to provide mental health support to Coloradans in need, particularly in this time of crisis. I applaud the House for approving this bipartisan, commonsense legislation, and I look forward to the President signing it into law in order to save lives.”
“In America, we lose about 45,000 people every year to suicide, including more than 6,100 veterans, making it one of the leading causes of death in this country,” said Senator Baldwin. “We need to do everything we can to prevent suicide and that means improving the tools we have to help people who are suffering from depression or other mental health concerns. I’m very proud our bipartisan legislation has passed the House of Representatives so we can make it as quick and easy as possible for Americans in crisis to get the help and support they need through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line.”
“The national suicide hotline is a proven lifesaver and this legislation will connect more people to the help they need, when they need it. The simplified, nationwide, three-digit number will expand the lifeline’s reach and link people to professional assistance,” said Senator Reed. “People know 9-1-1 is for emergencies and 3-1-1 is for local services. Now we must raise awareness to ensure people know 9-8-8 is for suicide prevention. Just as importantly, we need to back the hotline up with adequate resources and appropriate staffing levels.”
Until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finalizes the technical implementation of 9-8-8 as the nationwide number, anyone seeking help should still call 1-800-273-8255.