CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at advocacy@counseling.org 


 

Dec 13, 2019

National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S. 2661) approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Your voices have been heard and the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Government Relations Team would like to thank the dedicated counselors and advocates that continue to work on behalf of suicide prevention. Today, ACA is happy to report that our combined efforts on suicide prevention have made substantial progress and the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S. 2661) was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), designates 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.

It couldn’t be more needed or urgent. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported in 2017 that over 47,000 Americans died by suicide[1] and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ranks suicide as the second leading cause of death among children and young adults, ages 10 to 24.[2] According to the CDC, suicide increased in 49 of the 50 states from 1999 to 2016.[3] In particular, we know that marginalized or traumatized populations are the most impacted proportionally, including the LGBTQ community, foster youth, and Veterans. This legislation acknowledges these inequities and proposes a short, simple, and accessible hotline as part of a growing public health effort to invest in prevention.

Senator Gardner introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (S.2661) in partnership with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jack Reed (D-RI). Prior to S.2661, Congress directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to assess the need for and the impact of an easy-to-use three-digit National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The FCC released their report this August with an affirmative recommendation, finding that a national hotline would reduce fatalities across the United States.

S.2661 was introduced this October with the overwhelming support of the ACA community. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act allows states to collect fees, such as those collected for the national 911 emergency hotline, and requires Congressional oversight to ensure successful outcomes and equitable access.

More on this exciting development and legislation can be found HERE.

 


[1]  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Report to the Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 18-336, CC Docket No. 92-105.

[2] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Available from:www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars.

[3] The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Report to the Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 18-336, CC Docket No. 92-105.

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