Tester: ‘Suicide Prevention Hotline should be a household number’

Senator’s legislation to designate 9-8-8 as dialing code for National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline clears key hurdle

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to pass legislation through the Senate Commerce Committee that would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate ‘9-8-8′ as the dialing code for a National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline. The FCC quickly followed suit, voting in support of the measure earlier today.

“Having someone to talk to can mean the difference between life and death for folks going through a mental health crisis,” Tester said. “The National Suicide Prevention Hotline should be a household number-much like 9-1-1-so that everyone knows exactly where to call if they find themselves or a loved one in a situation where they need immediate access to mental health and suicide prevention resources.”

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019 would make getting help significantly easier for those dealing with a mental health crisis by creating an easy-to-remember phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The legislation would also create a Veterans Crisis Line for veteran-specific mental health support, and authorizes the states to collect fees to ensure local call centers are able to support increased volume. Currently, to reach the Hotline, those in crisis must dial the 11 digit 1-800-273-8255 number.

Montana holds the highest rate of suicide in the country per capita, and Tester has worked tirelessly to combat suicide and bring more resources to those experiencing mental health crises. Earlier this year, he introduced his Seeding Rural Resilience Act to combat rising rates of farmer suicide in rural areas, and he introduced his Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to improve veteran’s access to mental health care and ensure no more veterans are lost to suicide.