WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Tuesday he is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation that would designate 9-8-8 as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
Amid deeply troubling statistics about suicide in Oregon and nationwide, Wyden has been a long-time advocate of setting aside a three-digit number for people facing a mental health crisis and considering suicide.
“Suicide is a public health crisis and requires this urgent step of building upon the successful use of a recognized three-digit 9-1-1 number for emergencies,” Wyden said. “Designating a three-digit 9-8-8 number for people in a mental health crisis or thinking about suicide is a crucial piece of the targeted response that’s needed to save lives in Oregon and nationwide.”
The statewide “Breaking the Silence” reporting project last year in Oregon found suicide kills more than 800 Oregonians a year and that suicide rates in the state and across the country have steadily increased since 2000.
The bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) follows a Federal Communications Commission recommendation in August that a 9-8-8 number would help with mental health and suicide prevention access.
In addition to directing the creation of 9-8-8 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the bill would include the Veterans Crisis Line for veteran-specific mental health support and authorize states to collect fees to ensure local call centers can support increased volume.