President signs 988 national suicide hotline into law

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 1:48 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (WBAY) - President Trump signed a bill pushed by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) to create a national, three-digit emergency phone number for people dealing with suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis.

The 988 number isn’t in effect yet, but it will route callers to either the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Veterans Crisis Line.

Sen. Baldwin introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act one year ago with two Republican and one Democratic co-author. It unanimously passed the Senate in May and passed the House of Representatives last month.

“In America, we lose about 45,000 people every year to suicide, including more than 6,100 veterans,” Sen. Baldwin wrote in a statement. It’s estimated 17 veterans die by suicide every day, and about 1 in 5 people who died by suicide in Wisconsin in 2017 was a veteran.

Until 988 goes into effect, people contemplating suicide or struggling with their mental health should call local crisis lines or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Baldwin urged the Federal Communications Commission to move quickly to get the hotline up and running.

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