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Senator’s legislation designating 9-8-8 as dialing code for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline signed into law

Critical mental health resources will be more accessible than ever for folks in crisis following the signing of U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 into law.

“Nobody should have to go far for help during a mental health crisis,” Tester said. “Just like those reaching out to 9-1-1 in an emergency, anyone who finds themselves or a loved one in need of immediate access to mental health and suicide prevention resources will be able to dial 9-8-8 and quickly connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trimming the number to an easy-to-remember three-digit code will connect more people with the help they need when they need it - and that can mean all the difference for folks in crisis.”

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 directs the Federal Communications Commission to designate 9-8-8 as a universal dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and creates a Veterans Crisis Line for veteran-specific mental health support. In addition, the bill authorizes states to collect fees to ensure local call centers are able to support increased call volume and directs government health agencies to determine strategies to improve support services for those at higher risk of suicide, including LGBTQ+ youth, minorities, and those living in rural areas. The new dialing code will be implemented in 2022.

Suicide is among the leading causes of death in Montana. Tester has fought tirelessly to combat suicide and expand access to life-saving mental health resources for those in crisis. Just this week, Tester’s bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act to improve veterans’ access to mental health resources was signed into law. Continuing his push to raise awareness for the mental health crisis impacting farmers and ranchers, Tester recently pushed his colleagues to ensure his Seeding Rural Resilience Act, bipartisan legislation supporting mental health tools in rural America, remains included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

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