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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By making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most. pic.twitter.com/vl17SOMZlm
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 14, 2018
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.
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.
The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July, followed by a unanimous vote in the Senate earlier this month.
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.
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