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house Bill H.R. 2345

Should the National Suicide Prevention Lifelife’s 1-800 Number be Shortened to a Three-Digit Code Like 911?

Argument in favor

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an important and effective resource for preventing suicide, and it should be made as accessible as possible. This includes making sure that its number is as easy to remember as possible.

Thomas's Opinion
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07/23/2018
As someone who suffers from severe depression, I can tell you that when you are in a crisis situation you are not in the state of mind needed to find the 800 number. An easy to remember 3 digit number could help a lot of people and even save lives.
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VainORMS's Opinion
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07/23/2018
When persons are in a crisis situation, their wherewithal doesn’t work appropriately. Shortening the suicide helpline makes sense.
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Jennifer 's Opinion
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07/23/2018
Finally some real common sense legislation that should be bi-partisan. Creating a mass PSA to market the new 3 digit # could easily overcome any learning curve, especially with social media. And people under stress could more easily remember a 3 digit# more than an 800 crisis line one, as well as a large segment of the population who would refer others because they’d remember it more easily. 911 is universal, as would this # be after overcoming a short learning curve.
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Argument opposed

Based on the two million people who called last year, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s current 1-800 number works for people who want to reach it. Additionally, changing the number after years of publicizing it could create confusion.

Ryanwhitney's Opinion
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07/23/2018
Not unless the old number is still supported. I would support this if the original number continues to be maintained.
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Laurie's Opinion
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07/24/2018
No. There are too many stressed out police departments. The Repubgnants will never allocate the money for that. They don’t want to save any lives as far as I can see.
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James 's Opinion
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07/23/2018
This can best be handled by local communities
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bill Progress


  • EnactedAugust 14th, 2018
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed August 1st, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The house Passed July 23rd, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 379 Yea / 1 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Communications and Technology
    IntroducedMay 3rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 2345?

This bill would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to coordinate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services and consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to: 1) examine the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code — like 911 — for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and 2) assess the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s effectiveness, including how well it addresses the needs of veterans.

Both VA and SAMHSA would be required to complete a separate study and analysis to be used by the FCC to develop a comprehensive study and report incorporating information from both studies. The FCC would then be required to provide additional analysis and recommendations on the logistics and costs to develop a three-digit dialing code if the other agencies recommended that a dialing code be implemented.

The FCC would have to submit its findings, including a recommended dialing code, a cost-benefit analysis comparing the three-digit code to the current lifeline number, and cost estimates, to Congress.

Impact

Veterans; Individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts; individuals struggling with mental health issues; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; Federal Communications Commission; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration; and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2345

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2019-2023 period to pay for the agencies to coordinate and develop the analyses and reports required under the bill.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced this bill to improve the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by making its number shorter and easier to remember:

“Each year, almost 35,000 Americans tragically take their own life. In addition, one person attempts to commit suicide every 38 seconds. This is devastating to families and communities. The resources we currently have in place for suicide prevention and other mental health crises are simply too difficult to find during a time of need.”

There are 115 cosponsors of this bill including 62 Republicans and 53 Democrats. A companion bill in the Senate, S. 1015, was passed on November 6, 2017.

This bill is supported by The American Foundation for Suicide PreventionMental Health Liaison GroupUtah Department of Human ServicesUtah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the University of Utah’s University Neuropsychiatric Institute.


Of NoteThe suicide rate in the United States is currently at a 30-year high. Today, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country, and attention to the issue is high due to recent high-profile celebrity suicides and rapper Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” titled after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number.

Some argue that the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), can be cumbersome to remember.

John Madigan, vice president of public policy at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, believes that a streamlined number would be a big improvement in access for the crisis line:

“Three digits, if you are in crisis, would help. Everyone, even 1- and 2-year-olds, know to call 911. It’s high time we make it as easy as possible to get help.”

Access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an important de-escalation tool for individuals in mental health crises. Multiple studies have shown that telephone crisis support dramatically reduces the risk of suicide, creating a 76% de-escalation in the risk of suicide.

Annual use of the National Suicide Prevention Line is significant: Two million people called the crisis line in 2017, up from 1.5 million in 2016. In January, calls were up 60% over January 2017. After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, calls to the Lifeline jumped 25% — proving how important a resource the Lifeline is, and how critical access to it can be for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: CatLane / iStock)

AKA

National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018

Official Title

To require the Federal Communications Commission to study the feasibility of designating a simple, easy-to-remember dialing code to be used for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.

    As someone who suffers from severe depression, I can tell you that when you are in a crisis situation you are not in the state of mind needed to find the 800 number. An easy to remember 3 digit number could help a lot of people and even save lives.
    Like (98)
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    Not unless the old number is still supported. I would support this if the original number continues to be maintained.
    Like (18)
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    When persons are in a crisis situation, their wherewithal doesn’t work appropriately. Shortening the suicide helpline makes sense.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    Finally some real common sense legislation that should be bi-partisan. Creating a mass PSA to market the new 3 digit # could easily overcome any learning curve, especially with social media. And people under stress could more easily remember a 3 digit# more than an 800 crisis line one, as well as a large segment of the population who would refer others because they’d remember it more easily. 911 is universal, as would this # be after overcoming a short learning curve.
    Like (23)
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    The easier and quicker it is to find help the better.
    Like (22)
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    Terrific idea! How about shortening a code for drug overdoses too?
    Like (13)
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    This seems like a great idea that wouldn’t cost taxpayers much money at all...
    Like (13)
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    SHOCKED!!! by the response from Jeremy in the "Nay" column. What a HORRIBLE person you are!! People who commit suicide are NOT selfish nor idiots...that would be reserved for YOU!! People that commit suicide or contemplate suicide think their self worth is nothing because of people like Jeremy! Evidently Jeremy has not lost a loved one...and has NO empathy whatsoever!
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    This sounds like a good idea, however, shouldn't it be the state that's responsible for the hotline? Kinda hard to prevent a suicide 4000 miles away. There should be a way to link back to local emergency services.
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    This would be s terrific idea. Anytime someone is in distress time is imperative Dialing less numbers can relive the enormous stress is going thru andthose few seconds saved will get that person the help they need faster and it could even save a life
    Like (8)
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    767 = SOS
    Like (7)
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    YES! Let’s make this more accessible to people in need! Keeping it short and memorable will help improve chances of people reaching out and will make it memorable for those trying to help. This could save lives!
    Like (5)
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    Though it will take funding to implement and to sort calls by areas, regions or states, the simplicity would seem worth the cost!
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    Additionally, if healthcare to help the folks who call in could be universally affordable! Also, it’s worth noting that after trump was elected, the call volume for the suicide prevention hotline tripled. And it is worth noting that the majority of callers were those who have experienced narcissistic abuse, and trump functions exactly like a narcissistic abuser. So, dear Republicans in Congress, do your legislative duty, and hold the executive branch accountable.
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    100% Yes. No question about it.
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    A good step, but don’t want this used as an excuse to pretend we’re doing something about actually saving lives, which includes screening on their firearms/red flag measures and allowing for proper healthcare. I support this effort but not as an excuse, this should be supplemental to real solutions for dealing with suicide. Start with a public PSA that suicidal people do *not* just “go on to kill themselves some other way,” it’s an acute crisis and we can absolutely save lives by viewing it accurately as one.
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    (Veterans Benefits) Suicide 911 Three Digits Dialing I’d support and recommend passage of a bill which would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to coordinate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services and consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to: 1) examine the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code — like 911 — for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and 2) assess the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s effectiveness, including how well it addresses the needs of veterans. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an important and effective resource for preventing suicide, and it should be made as accessible as possible. This includes making sure that its number is as easy to remember as possible. 7*23*18 ..........
    Like (4)
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    Anything that helps people who need it most. It harms no one to do this.
    Like (4)
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    Suicide is becoming a crisis so yes, support this bill. But also address the roots of suicide. Stagnant wages, bad healthcare, expensive rent, etc.
    Like (3)
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    as someone who has experienced the crippling effects of anxiety and depression, i can guarantee that a 3 digit number is easy to remember and would help save lives.
    Like (3)
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