New 3-Digit National Suicide Prevention Hotline Launches Today

The idea for the 9-8-8 hotline number originated during a roundtable with veterans in Fairmont, West Virginia

Washington, D.C. — Today, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline has launched its new 3-digit number, 9-8-8. Available 24/7/365, this free and confidential hotline will be available for anyone in the United States experiencing a mental health, substance abuse, or suicide crisis. Additionally, veterans can now use the same 3-digit number, followed by pressing 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Hotline. Previously, the number to reach the lifeline was 1-800-273-TALK.

“Today is an historic day. Mental health, substance abuse, and suicide continue to be urgent crises that plague our country,” said Rep. David B. McKinley. “We owe it to our fellow Americans to be with them in their moments of greatest need. I served as an original sponsor for this legislation in 2018 and again in 2020, and I’m proud that the idea to change to a 3-digit lifeline originated during a roundtable with veterans in Fairmont. The transition to a 3-digit lifeline will help more struggling Americans quickly and efficiently access counseling that will help get them through times of crisis. Lives will be saved thanks to the 9-8-8 lifeline.”

BACKGROUND:

McKinley has advocated for a three-digit suicide prevention hotline for several years after hearing about the concept in roundtable meetings with veterans. Since then, McKinley pushed the issue, working with other members, the FCC, and sponsored legislation.

  • Lead cosponsor of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019 (H.R. 4194). The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorizes states to collect a fee limited to supporting local crisis call centers that are affiliated within the national network or enhancements of such services. This allows states to fund the suicide hotline services similar to that of existing emergency services. The Senate companion bill was signed into law in October 2020.
  • Lead sponsor on the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2345) which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump. This bill required the FCC to examine the feasibility of designating a three-digit dialing code for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system; and analyze the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, including how well it addresses the needs of veterans.


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