America is experiencing a mental health crisis. Recent reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that mental health and suicidal ideation has worsened since the onset of COVID-19, with one in four (25.5%) young adults reporting they had seriously considered suicide in the previous month.
The bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661) would help ensure access to an easy-to-remember, three-digit line directly to trained counselors. The bill would provide states with critical funding guidance to establish 9-8-8. It would also provide critical federal reporting and specialized service training for at-risk populations, including LGBTQ youth.
Designating 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline system and providing a mechanism to fund the initiative at the scale of the problem would save lives. If Congress does not act, the vision of 988 as a robust crisis intervention resource that serves more people in emotional crisis will not be met, and lives could be lost.
This easy-to-access, nationwide 3-digit emergency number (9-8-8) will help people in a mental health crisis. And it’s close to becoming a reality.
9-8-8 can’t wait.