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Utah lawmakers celebrate bill improving suicide hotline

SALT LAKE CITY — The National Suicide Prevention Hotline will soon be reachable by a three-digit dialing code, similar to 911. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Chris Stewart helped craft the bill, which received overwhelming support from both parties and was signed by President Trump last week.

At the State Capitol today, Congressman Chris Stewart, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher, and Utah Rep. Steve Eliason gathered to celebrate the passing of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act of 2018.

Stewart says Utah is known for many things, including being a leader in business and closing the wage gap. He says there is another thing Utah is known for, one he would rather the state not be.

“It’s one that really surprises people when they hear it,” says Stewart. “We are number five in the country in suicide deaths, which is one of the reasons why many of us felt we can do better than that.”

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act is just the first step in revamping the existing service. The bill asks the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to recommend the best national three-digit number for the hotline.

Stewart says, “411, maybe it will be 611, we don’t know yet. I think we’ll find out in short order.”

The bill also calls on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to examine the overall effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Veterans Crisis Line, as well as recommend ways to improve the current system.

A cost benefit analysis of using a three-digit dialing code for the hotline system is also being called for.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.