Mountain West Could Benefit From A Nation-Wide Three-Digit Suicide Hotline

Jul 25, 2018

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

The House just passed a bill to create a 9-1-1 type service nationwide for suicide prevention. This change could be especially important for our region, which has some of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Utah Congressman Chris Stewart sponsored the legislation. He said there is a national ten-digit hotline and other various ten-digit numbers people can call from state to state already, but it can be difficult to remember those numbers or which one to call, especially if you’re in crisis.

He said the new law would give us a three-digit number, something like 411 or 611. “Everyone in the country will know about it eventually,” said Stewart, “and most people will able to remember it. It really can save lives.”

The President of Mental Health Colorado, Andrew Romanoff, supports a national suicide hotline.  He said it’s particularly critical in the Mountain West.

“Our region has seen higher suicide rates than the national average,” he said. “We live in what sometimes described as a suicide belt that stretches down the Rocky Mountains. So providing a toll-free, 24/7, easy-to-remember call line is one step in the right direction.”

A similar bill authored by Utah’s Orrin Hatch passed the U.S. Senate. Once it’s reconciled with Stewart’s bill, the legislation will head to the President’s desk.  

Suicide in the Mountain West (according to the CDC): Montana ranks number 1 in the country for its suicide rate. Wyoming ranks number 3. Utah comes in 5th. Idaho ties with Nevada for number 6. Colorado ranks number 9.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.