House committee advances two suicide prevention bills

House committee advances two suicide prevention bills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently advanced two bipartisan bills focused on suicide prevention.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act would designate “9-8-8” nationwide as the suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The number would be operated by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

The Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act would establish an educational campaign to raise awareness of the hotline and suicide prevention resources, and to create a discussion on how to prevent suicide. The campaign would be based on recommendations by the Federal Communications Commission and suicide prevention advocates.

“People are hurting in Montana and across our nation, particularly amid this coronavirus crisis and economic shutdown,” Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MO), who introduced the bill, said. “Unfortunately, too many Montanans don’t have access to the mental health care they need, particularly folks who live in our rural and frontier communities. Now more than ever, it’s critical we make sure folks in crisis can easily access support to help them, including 9-8-8.

In Montana, suicide is one of the top causes of death for residents 15 to 24, and the state has
one of the highest rates of suicide in the country.

The bills move to the full House for consideration.