GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
One person commits suicide every 17 minutes in the United States, but the Rocky Mountain region has the highest rate in the country, and the second leading cause of death of among youth in the state according to a suicide report from The Colorado Trust. State Representative Matt Soper says, “In Western Colorado we have some of the highest suicide rates in the state.”
Insurance coverage and costs can create barriers in saving people from suicide, so a free phone number is the best hope for a solution. “The goal of congress was to have a standardized, dedicated number across the nation that you could call no matter where you are in the nation, and have that number reroute locally,” said Soper.
A project one former senator started in 2018, a current state representative is finishing in 2021, and the solution is to save time to save lives. “U.S. Senator Cory Gardner was able to get this through the U.S. Senate, and through Congress, this bill which creates 988 which is a shortened version of our long phone number for our mental health and suicide prevention hotline,” Soper said.
Cory Gardner said in May 2020, “For somebody who’s in that moment of need, it’s easy to remember.” Soper says, “If you’re in a crisis situation, and you’re one of those people who call, it could be the difference between ending a life and saving a life.”
When you’re in a mental health crisis there’s only one mental health hospital between Denver and Salt Lake City (West Springs Hospital) and you ring that buzzer for help. But, if you can’t make it to the hospital you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline which is eleven digits long; which may be too long because seconds save lives. But, the time to dial the number isn’t the only problem. “”You will be redirected from one phone to another phone, and if you’re about to commit suicide, there’s nothing worse than having someone say to you, “Please hold while I direct your call to another line,”” said State Representative Soper.