In-Depth: Rep. 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 Prevention, Mental Health Liaison Group, Utah Department of Human Services, Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and the University of Utah’s University Neuropsychiatric Institute.
Of Note: The 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.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: CatLane / iStock)