Fri May 22nd, 2020
Suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline
On Wednesday, May 13, the Senate unanimously passed U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) bipartisan bill to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. Gardner introduced this bipartisan legislation with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jack Reed (D-RI).
“Combatting rising suicide rates in Colorado has been a top priority of mine and why I’ve led the charge in the Senate to establish the 9-8-8 national suicide hotline. 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 on average every seven hours, and we must keep fighting to provide mental health support to Coloradans in need, particularly in this time of crisis,” said Senator Gardner. “With the Senate’s approval today, this bipartisan bill to create a three-digit suicide hotline is now one step closer to becoming reality. This three-digit number would make it easier for Americans dealing with a mental health crisis to receive life-saving support. I will continue to push Congress to create this three-digit hotline, because too many people are suffering and don’t know where to turn to for help.”
Calls to the mental health crisis line in Colorado have spiked 47 percent due in part to COVID-19. Roughly 60 percent of calls to the crisis line are related to the ongoing pandemic.
Gardner’s National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, S. 2661, designates 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. The bill includes a report to improve support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and other high-risk populations.