(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) that would establish a three-digit national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act would designate 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and 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 also includes a report to improve support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and other high-risk populations.
“Suicide prevention needs Congress’s urgent attention, particularly as Granite Staters and Americans across the nation continue to bear the tremendous financial, emotional and social burdens of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Shaheen. “An easy-to-access three-digit suicide hotline will serve as a lifeline to Americans in crisis. I’m glad the Senate voted unanimously to pass this legislation, and I urge the House of Representatives to pass this bill as soon as possible.”
“From economic instability to health concerns to social isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating and exacerbating severe mental health challenges for many Granite Staters,” said Senator Hassan. “Just like everyone knows you can call 9-1-1 for an emergency, individuals should have clear, direct access to emergency mental health services. I’m pleased that the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to designate 9-8-8 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline, and I hope that the House of Representatives swiftly passes this bill. I will also continue to advocate for significant investments in desperately needed behavioral health services, which are even more important during this unprecedented pandemic.”