If you or someone you love is in a mental health crisis, where do you call? 911? A suicide hotline number? Where do you locate that number? These are the questions facing Washington citizens.
There is currently an important bill in the Washington state House of Representatives that would address these questions, HB 1477.
HB 1477 would get Washington ready for the National Suicide Designation Act of 2020. This act was passed by the U.S. Congress and requires the Federal Communications Commission to designate 988 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
The 988 line is federally mandated to be operable by July 2022, so it is important that Washington be able to support the increased call volume expected. The crisis call center would route calls to a local crisis center which would triage calls and link individuals to follow up care.
Six-thousand Washington adults and children died by suicide in the last five years. This reflects a state increase of suicides of 36% in the last 10 years.
Suicide is the single leading cause of death for Washington young people ages 10 to 24. We can turn these numbers around. Please consider contacting your legislators and asking them to support HB 1477.
This is easily done online at leg.wa.gov. There is a menu item to locate your district and representatives. Each representative has an online form to contact them directly. Let’s work together to pass HB 1477 and make it easier for those in crisis to get the help they need.