Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s National Suicide Hotline Designation Act was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. Congresswoman Johnson introduced this legislation in the House of Representatives with Representatives Chris Stewart (UT-02), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Greg Gianforte (MT-AL).
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. The system will include the Veterans Crisis Line to specifically support veterans seeking mental health support. Additionally, the bill authorizes states to collect a fee dedicated solely to supporting local crisis call centers that are affiliated within the national network for enhancements of such services.
“As a former chief psychiatric nurse, I am so pleased that we are able to finally designate 9-8-8 as the dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, making this critical resource much more accessible during times of mental health crisis. This is especially timely, as many of our communities have been struggling with mental health distress during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Johnson.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act becoming law yesterday follows Congresswoman Johnson’s previous effort, The National Suicide Improvement Act, which was signed into law in August of 2018. That law directed the FCC and SAMHSA to study the feasibility of a 3-digit dialing code for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The FCC publicly released their report in August 2019, finding that designating a 3-digit code dedicated solely for the purpose of a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access lifesaving resources. It was in that report that the FCC recommended 9-8-8 as the best 3-digit code to be used for this purpose, thus setting the framework for Congresswoman Johnson’s National Suicide Hotline Designation Act.