Arlington, VA – Yesterday, Congress passed S. 2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, which will head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“The need for 9-8-8 is urgent. Without appropriate care, people with mental illness end up on our streets, in jails and in emergency departments—and dying in tragic encounters with law enforcement,” said Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., NAMI CEO. “Thanks to yesterday’s vote, we are making progress toward ensuring people in crisis get help, not handcuffs.”
More than half of people in the U.S. report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. Too many lives are being lost because of interactions between people in crisis and law enforcement. By the House passing S. 2661, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, the country is on track to make 9-8-8 fully operational and provide resources to meet the increasing demand for mental health services.
We are especially grateful to celebrate the success of this bill during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month because it establishes, in law, a universal three-digit number, 9-8-8, for mental health and suicidal crises and has the potential to save lives when every second counts. The Federal Communications Commission has said this number will become effective in July 2022. To help communities prepare, S. 2661 also permits states to impose fees that will allow for timely and well-trained crisis response.
NAMI is thankful for Congress’ bipartisan support of this goal and especially grateful to the bill’s co-sponsors, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jack Reed (D-RI), and to the co-sponsors of the companion House bill, Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT-2), Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), Greg Gianforte (R-MT-At Large), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30).
The new three-digit number will not be operational until July 2022. Experiencing a crisis? Please call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “NAMI” to 741741.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
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