Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Wednesday introduced critical legislation to prevent suicide, particularly among teenagers and veterans. Hatch and Donnelly’s bipartisan bill would reform the current suicide prevention lifeline system and Veterans Crisis Line by requiring the Federal Communications Commission—in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs—to study the current national suicide hotline system and make recommendations to Congress on how we can improve it, including an easy to remember 3-digit number for the national suicide prevention hotline.
Donnelly said, “As we work to reduce the number of suicides in Indiana and across the country, this bill would examine if an easy-to-remember, 3-digit hotline would help save lives. I’m proud to work with Senator Hatch on this bipartisan effort, because we can all support working to improve mental health services and ending the stigma attached to mental health issues.”
Hatch said, “Every 14 hours, a Utahn commits suicide, resulting in an average of 557 deaths each year. The problem is so acute that Utah now has the 5th highest suicide rate in the nation. This trend is particularly pronounced among Utah’s youth. Utah’s teenagers desperately need our help. That’s why last December I convened a roundtable discussion with community leaders, healthcare professionals, principals, and parents at East High School in Salt Lake City. There, we discussed proven methods to destigmatize mental illness and address the teen suicide crisis. In response to what I learned at our roundtable discussion, I will introduce the bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, which will make it easier for Americans to access the help and treatment they need when they consider harming themselves.”