Buchanan supports bill to establish nationwide suicide telephone hotline

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) recently joined almost 70 other lawmakers in cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that would establish a national suicide hotline.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019, H.R. 4194, introduced in August by U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would authorize states to collect a small fee to fund local crisis call centers across the United States.

“We need to do a better job getting assistance to those in mental health crisis,” Rep. Buchanan said. “By making it easier to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and devoting resources towards these crisis centers, we can have an immediate impact in reducing suicide.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34 years, and the fourth-leading cause among those ages 35 to 54 years, according to a statement released by Rep. Buchanan’s office.

If enacted, H.R. 4194 would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9–8–8 as the universal telephone number as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system, which would operate through both the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line, according to the bill’s text.

The FCC last month issued a report finding that a three-digit number dedicated to suicide prevention would make it easier for Americans in need to connect with lifesaving resources, according to the congressman’s statement.

The bill is endorsed by organizations including the American Legion and Centerstone, a mental health organization that offers services in Bradenton, Fla.

“Suicide is preventable. Everyone in our communities, in our nation, has to be involved,” said Melissa Larkin-Skinner, CEO of Centerstone Florida. “We all have to work together to achieve zero suicides. Thank you to Congressman Buchanan for recognizing the need for a National Suicide Hotline 3-digit number that is easy to remember.”

H.R. 4194 is pending consideration in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.