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Gardner’s national 9-8-8 suicide hotline bill passes Senate

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced this bipartisan legislation with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

WASHINGTON — A bill that would designate 9-8-8 as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday. 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced this bipartisan legislation with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jack Reed (D-RI). 

RELATED: The cost of establishing 988, a national mental health crisis line

"We lose a Coloradan to death by suicide on average every 7 hours & we must keep fighting to provide mental health support to Coloradans in need, particularly in this time of crisis.," Gardner said in a tweet.

Vincent Atchity, executive director for Mental Health Colorado, last year said launching a new three-digit emergency line could help remove an obstacle to get help because it would be easier to remember and connect someone to a person specifically trained in providing mental health support.  

Atchity also said if law enforcement is needed in a situation, they would be called in. 

Atchity said although 9-8-8 would be a national number, it would route people to local services. 

"So here in Colorado, a call to 9-8-8 might direct you to the Colorado Crisis Services," he said.

"I think it would help tremendously," he added," It's a number a child could learn; we could learn 988 the way we've learned 911."

RELATED: A 3-digit number would help people in a mental health crisis get help immediately

RELATED: Colorado Crisis Services gets record-breaking number of calls during pandemic

RELATED: Mental health and addiction resources for Colorado residents

At the Rocky Mountain Crisis Services center, where the phone rings more than 180,000 times a year, CEO Bev Marquez said in January that having quality time to spend on those calls is very important. 

This center takes both from both the state-run helpline, Colorado Crisis Services (844-493-8255), as well as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Marquez likes the idea of dialing 9-8-8 instead of the 10-digit number for the national line because it would simplify the process.

"Overall value," said Marquez. "We absolutely support it." 

She also anticipates this would increase their call volume by 40%, which would require an additional $750,000 a year to help bring on 12 more full-time staff members.

The bill will go before the House and if passed could be signed into law by President Donald Trump. 

The FCC voted to establish 9-8-8 in December.

988 isn't up and running yet. If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone now, contact Colorado Crisis Services 24/7 at 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" TO 38255

You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES 

SUICIDE & MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for those in crisis 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. 

Colorado Crisis Services 

There are four ways to get confidential and immediate help: by phone at 1-844-493-8255, over text message (text the word “TALK” to 38255), via an online chat service, or at walk-in centers throughout metro Denver, northern, the southeast region and the western slope. Many of these services are available 24/7. 

Trained counselors are available to help with relationship problems, depression, bullying, stress, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, family crisis and more. 

Mental Health Colorado 

This advocacy organization hosts a variety of online mental health screening in both English and Spanish, a mental health toolkit for schools, a page dedicated to the latest mental health research, as well as a variety of events throughout the year. 

Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health 

Using this link, you can find the community mental health center nearest to you. All of the centers accept Medicaid and most have sliding payment options for those who do not have insurance. 

SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESOURCES 

Alcoholics Anonymous Colorado 

Find meetings throughout Colorado as well as information about the program and other services and events put on by AA. 

Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation 

A division of UCHealth, CeDAR offers 30- to 120-day residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs, medically-supervised detox programs, and recovery management. 

Denver Health STEP Program 

The Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention Program was established specifically to help teens and young adults from 11 to 24 years of age. It offers a 12-week outpatient program on the campus of Denver Health and in several Denver Public Schools. 

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