11.19.19

Gardner Holds Press Conference on Next Steps for National 9-8-8 Suicide Hotline

Joined by FCC Chairman, details next steps to make mental health support three digits away

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) joined Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai and representatives from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs, and leaders in the mental health community for a press conference to discuss the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, Gardner’s bipartisan legislation to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

FCC Chairman Pai announced at the press conference that the FCC will consider establishing 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention hotline at their meeting on December 12, 2019.

 988 Press Conference

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks.

“We must do more to destigmatize access to emergency mental health resources and prevent suicides in our country. We lose a Coloradan to suicide approximately every seven hours, and we now lose more veterans annually to suicide than combat,” said Senator Gardner. “If this bipartisan bill becomes law, Americans could dial a three-digit phone number in times of any crisis: 9-1-1 for an emergency, and 9-8-8 for a mental health emergency. This legislation is more than smart policy that will help save lives, it’s a statement that our government recognizes the crisis and is working across party lines to address it.”

Background:

  • In 2018, Gardner voted for the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, which directed the Federal Communications Commission to evaluate using a 3-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • This August, the FCC released their report, which found that a national three-digit line would improve suicide prevention and recommended a simple number that Americans could dial in times of crisis: 9-8-8.
  • In October, Senators Gardner, Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced S. 2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which designates 9-8-8 for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline and ensures states have the flexibility to strengthen local crisis call centers.
  • This month, nearly 50 mental health organizations and veterans support organizations announced their support and urged Congress to pass the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy