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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas

Congresswoman Johnson Designates “9-8-8” for Suicide Hotline Dialing Code

Aug 20, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT). This bipartisan legislation designates “9-8-8” as the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system, which currently operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

 “As a former chief psychiatric nurse, I have spent my career advocating for more accessible mental health resources in our communities. In my home state of Texas, thousands of lives are tragically lost to suicide every year – averaging a life lost every two hours. This bipartisan effort to designate a three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will simplify access to these resources for our constituents in their times of need.” – Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

“I am truly honored to lead on the Utah-based initiative to get a three-digit, easy-to-remember, dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide hits close to home with an average of two Utahns taking their life every day. This dialing code is an essential step in providing critical resources to those in emotional distress.” – Rep. Chris Stewart 

"This bill will save lives. When your house is on fire, you don’t have time to look up the fire department’s phone number—that’s why we have 9-1-1. In the same way, you should know what number to dial when a friend, a loved one, or you yourself are experiencing a mental health crisis," Rep. Seth Moulton said. “This is a major milestone on the road to where mental healthcare in America is just part of healthcare, period. It’s one part of ending the stigma around mental health and making Americans healthier and stronger.”

 “Our nation faces an epidemic of suicide, and Montanans tragically are all too familiar with it,” Rep. Greg Gianforte said. “This bipartisan bill provides an essential resource for anyone facing a mental health crisis and helps our communities grow healthier and stronger.”

More about the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act:

Last year, Congresswoman Johnson’s National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act became law. This legislation called for a study to determine the best three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Under Stewart’s Directive, the FCC released its report last week recommending “9-8-8” as the best three-digit dialing code for the lifeline. Read the full press release here. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act assigns the FCC’s recommended number as the easy three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

This legislation 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.

In addition, this legislation sets a deadline of one year for the FCC to complete the nationwide upgrade of the legacy switches to support 9-8-8. It also requests a report from the FCC to determine the feasibility of providing an automatic dispatchable location for 9-8-8 calls.

This legislation is endorsed by the following organizations: American Association of Suicidology, Association for Behavioral Health & Wellness, Behavioral Health Link, Behavioral Health Response, Centerstone, Connections Health Solutions, The Jason Foundation, Kevin & Margaret Hines Foundation, The National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, The National Association for Rural Mental Health, Now Matters Now, InSight Telepsychiatry, RI International, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, and The Trevor Project.