President Trump signs Hatch, Stewart’s national 3-digit suicide prevention hotline bill

Sen. Orrin Hatch arrives at a news conference in Salt Lake City, May 2, 2018 | Associated Press file photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A bill aimed at creating a national three-digit suicide prevention hotline was signed into law Tuesday by President Donald Trump. Sponsored by Utah Republicans Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Chris Stewart, the bill aims to make the hotline more accessible and user-friendly.

Both Hatch and Stewart said Tuesday they were grateful that the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act is now law.

“With this topic, my heart is both heavy and hopeful – heavy because suicide has already taken so many lives; hopeful because this legislation can turn the tide in the campaign against this epidemic,” Hatch said in a statement.

“With this bill, we can prevent countless tragedies and help thousands of men and women get the help they so desperately need. I’m grateful this lifesaving proposal has been signed into law.”

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The improved suicide hotline will connect callers directly to trained call center crisis workers, according Hatch’s office. Having a three-digit hotline will make it easier for those in crisis – or those who know someone in crisis – to more easily remember the number to call.

This is a great day for Utah and a great day for the Nation,” Stewart said in a statement.

“We now have the opportunity to make the National Suicide Prevention Hotline more accessible and easier to remember. By creating a hotline dialing code that is short and easy to remember, we are taking an important step towards potentially averting tragedy. This new law truly has the ability to save lives. I’m grateful that the President signed this into law in a timely manner.”

According to a press release from the White House, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act:

…Requires the Federal Communications Commission, in coordination with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs, to study the feasibility of designating a three digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.

The three-digit hotline is also intended to consolidate various services into one point of access that can offer aid to someone contemplating suicide, Stewart has said previously.

Rep. Chris Stewart talks with employees of CargoGlide while visiting the St. George-based manufacturer, St. George, Utah, July 30, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Read more: ‘This legislation can turn the tide’; bill creating national 3-digit suicide prevention hotline heads to president’s desk

Both Hatch and Stewart have mentioned Utah’s “suicide epidemic.”

Utah is ranked fifth in the nation for suicides. In January, Gov. Gary Herbert created a task force to address the increasing suicide rates. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also recently launched a website addressing suicide and prevention.

Read more: Teen suicide task force includes Utah Jazz owner, Quorum of Twelve Apostles member and LGBT leader

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, followed by a unanimous vote in the Senate earlier this month.

Suicide resources

If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help by trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.

Nationwide suicide hotlines, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. The Southwest Behavioral Health Center also offers help for Southern Utah residents; call 800-574-6763 or 435-634-5600.

Other resources include Suicide.org, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • Kilroywashere August 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I am sorry, but this is not ground breaking, nor is it going to change the acceleration or epidemic of suicides in this country. Culture has shifted due to technology and in general we have become less social, and real-time human interaction is on the decline. There also is solid proof there is an epidemic of loneliness as well. Social media is reinventing our culture, and has been engineered to be addictive on purpose. Civil discourse is on the decline as well as civility itself. There is also an obsession with victimization, and the cult of personality is now bigger then ever. Narcissism is at an all time high, and age old values no longer count, as wealth seems to override everything. The gap between genders as well as generations is widening. Neighbors no longer know their neighbors as was the case just two or three decades ago. But these things are not the root cause of the suicide epidemic. You must go deeper to find the answer. I assure you it is there, but hidden beneath the surface.

    • comments August 15, 2018 at 4:12 pm

      I agree with all your points, but what is it that you think is the root cause hidden beneath the surface?

  • Kilroywashere August 15, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    The majority of human beings are losing their connection to nature. When this connection is cut off it leads to stress as well as depression. I will give one example how to lower the suicide rate, slam dunk. A 4 day work week would surely cut off 5%. How about a minimum 4 week vacation. The French get 6 weeks I believe. Not sure where I read this but working Americans have less time off than the serfs had during the middle ages. But that is just one aspect. Everybody knows watching any news channel these days for 5 min or more will induce stress, anger, and depression, as political pundits want to push our emotional buttons. I could go on, but the bottom line is you can’t avoid the stimuli unless you escape to nature for enough time to decompress. My experience is you need just about 3 days out in nature before you feel the difference. And when you come back, it wears off in 24-48 hours, which wasn’t always the case. The only group that seems unaffected are kids under the age of 10 or so. A vast part of our society seeks to divert this stress through drugs, legal and illegal, video games, binging on TV all day and social media garbagio. This is all left brain overkill and our right brain isn’t getting enough stimuli that counts. Playing sports as an example reduces stress, while watching sports can be stressful as we all know, and even leave you temporarily depressed if your team lost in a bad way etc. Now add it all up Comments, and you realize this is a problem being exacerbated by more and more stressed people being disconnected as we go dowm the tech rabbithole , with no relief in sight. And yes it can change if we realize the problem first. But the problem is we are caught in a conundrum and cant see the cause, even it is herein spelled out. You need to figure this out on your own. Hope that helps answers the question.

    • comments August 15, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      All true. Society would prob be far less dysfunctional if it were more connected with the natural world. That’s one reason I don’t understand why “conservatives” just absolutely despise us conservationists so much. You know, the natural world is being destroyed at such a rapid pace these days it’s just too depressing to even read about or think about. It’s a very very dysfunctioning world in so many aspects. I could go on a real long rant about that sort of thing, but I’ll just say I agree with you and leave it at that. Who knows what’s gonna happen…

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