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Congressman help pass bill changing suicide hotline to 3-digits

(Photo: Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Suicide Prevention Hotline will soon be reachable by dialing three numbers, similar to 911.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart and Sen. Orrin Hatch helped author the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act, which the House passed Monday, 379-1. Stewart calls the legislation an important step toward potentially averting tragedy.

“Every nine minutes, someone in the United States attempts suicide or is successful,” said Stewart on the House floor. “And for every suicide-related death, there are 25 attempts.”

With Utah having the fifth-highest suicide rate in the country, Stewart says these numbers hit close to home.

The legislation calls the current crisis phone number – 800-273-TALK- ‘cumbersome’ and difficult to remember. The bill’s authors call the legislation ‘commonsense’ with the ability to save lives.

“Suicide can strike anywhere,” says Stewart. “These are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our family members. And I believe that we have the power and we have the responsibility to reach out and to help them.”

The legislation also asks congress to study and evaluate the effectiveness of the crisis hotline.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.