U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's 9-8-8 telephone line for mental crisis moved a big step closer to reality Wednesday, when the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed passed his National Suicide Hotline Designation Act bill.
Gardner's office noted that the bill that passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee included improving support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth and "other high risk populations."
Gardner is sponsoring the bill with Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin and Jack Reed from Rhode Island, as well as Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.
The 9-8-8 call would be like a 9-1-1 call, but instead of police or fire, it would connect callers to counseling to prevent suicides and other harmful outcomes.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on a making rules for such a proposal on Thursday.
“Suicide has tragically impacted too many families in Colorado,” Gardner said in a statement Wednesday. “This easy-to-remember number would make it easier for Americans dealing with a mental health crisis to receive life-saving support.
"With the’s approval today, this bipartisan bill to create a three-digit suicide hotline became one step closer to becoming reality. I will continue to push Congress to create this three-digit hotline, because too many people are suffering and don’t know where to turn to for help.”
The Trevor Project, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ youth in crisis, was encouraged by the inclusion of language requiring a "distinct plan" for LGBTQ youth, Sam Brinton, the head of advocacy and government affairs for the organization, said in a statement released by Gardner's office.