A new bipartisan bill started by Senator Cory Gardner in 2018 has been passed in the Senate on Wednesday, May 13 with the goal to provide life-saving support even faster.
A Coloradan dies by suicide on average every seven hours and calls to mental health hotlines have spiked 47% in Colorado and 60% of those calls are related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Michelle Hoy with Mind Springs Health says, “There’s absolutely a higher volume of calls to the state hotline, and other mental health crisis hotlines since the pandemic.”
Both Mind Springs Health and the VA are here to help you all day, everyday. “There’s a statewide hotline, there’s national hotlines, there’s a lot of choices, and, they’re all 1-800 numbers usually. So, they’re big, long numbers to remember,” says Hoy.
Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Rainy Reaman, says, “A veteran can call the 1-800 number, text the veteran crisis line, or start a confidential online chat with a crisis responder.”
A new bipartisan bill hopes to cut the numbers down, and designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline, and by doing that, cut the suicide rates too. “When you’re in the middle of a crisis, you need something short, easy to remember to make access easier,” says Hoy. Reaman says, “An easy to remember, universal crisis line number is a great way to let our veteran’s know help is available, and to get our vets help quickly and more easily.”
The current National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Veterans Crisis line are both ten digits long, eleven if you dial the one. Gardner’s Hotline Designation Act, S. 2661 will cut that down to 9-8-8, but it hasn’t been implemented quite yet. In the meantime both Mind Springs Health and the VA are ready to help 24/7 all year. Michelle says, “There are truly caring and competent people out there that will help you find hope and a reason to live.” Rainy says, “The most important message we have to send especially, during times like this is that there is hope and help is available.”
For the Mind Springs Health statewide helpline click here
For the Veterans Crisis Line click here.