WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Seth Moulton is proud to announce the new 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launched on Saturday, July 16th. Americans experiencing a mental health crisis or who are concerned about the mental health of a loved one are able to dial 9-8-8 and get rapid, free, trained and confidential help.
Congressmen Moulton (D-Mass.) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act in 2019. That legislation passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law the following year, paving the way for the creation of the new 9-8-8 hotline.
The launch of this easy-to-remember hotline marks the culmination of more than three years of relentless work by Congressman Moulton with other members of Congress, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), state governments, and community crisis centers.
“We set out to create a three-digit mental health hotline because every American needs to know it is okay to reach out for help, and we need to know how to get that help if we are in need,” Congressman Moulton said. “Just as we all know to call 9-1-1 if our house is on fire, we will soon be able to call 9-8-8 if we or our loved ones are experiencing a mental health crisis.
“I’m grateful to all of the practitioners on the frontlines who answer calls and help so many Americans. There will be challenges as we get 9-8-8 off the ground, but the bottom line is that it will save lives on day one.”
“Suicide is a tragic issue that hits home for everyone,” said Rep. Stewart. “It is a top ten cause of death nationwide – as well as in my own home state – and the pandemic only intensified the problem. But the new 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be our fresh start,” said Congressman Stewart. “This is a historic opportunity to ensure the growing number of people in crisis can get the help they need. This new option will save thousands of lives and steer thousands of people into more appropriate treatment, but the work is far from over. I look forward to that continued work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I will never stop fighting to improve the mental health of our nation.”
According to the National Mental Health Alliance, one-in-five adults and one-in-six children experiences mental illness each year in the United States. Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for young people in our country.
In 2019, Moulton also disclosed how he dealt with post traumatic stress from his service in the military. At the time he outlined a three-pronged plan to expand access to mental health care and break the stigmas that prevent people from seeking help.
Part one was amending the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 to include mandatory mental health checkups for service members who saw combat.
The launch of 9-8-8 marks the completion of part two of this plan.
According to SAMHSA, moving to a three-digit dialing code is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen and expand the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”
Breaking the stigma, and expanding mental health resources to young people and Americans outside the military is part three.
“The shorter dialing code of 9-8-8 will help save lives and increase the access of this life-saving resource. Vibrant is grateful to Congress for passage of the National Suicide Designation Act, which created the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and increased funding to fortify and strengthen the Lifeline infrastructure and back-up networks. Hope has a new number and it is 988,” said Kimberly Williams, President and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health.
“When I disclosed my own struggles with post-traumatic stress after I served as a Marine in Iraq, my hope was that it would encourage more people to feel comfortable getting the help they need,” Moulton added. “I’m proud that it will now be much easier for Americans to do just that.”