Suicide prevention bills advance
News from the Office of Congressman Greg Gianforte
WASHINGTON – Congressman Greg Gianforte’s two bipartisan bills to prevent suicide unanimously cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee. The next step for the bills is a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“People are hurting in Montana and across our nation, particularly amid this coronavirus crisis and economic shutdown. Unfortunately, too many Montanans don’t have access to the mental health care they need, particularly folks who live in our rural and frontier communities. Now more than ever, it’s critical we make sure folks in crisis can easily access support to help them,” Gianforte said. “I’ll continue working to get these bills across the finish line so Montanans facing a crisis have resources that can save their lives.”
Montana has one of the highest rates of suicide of any state in the country, and suicide is the number one leading cause of death for Montanans ages 15 to 24. The two measures build upon Gianforte’s efforts to prevent suicide and increase access to healthcare through telemedicine.
Gianforte’s bipartisan National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, H.R. 4194, designates “9-8-8” as the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system, which operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran’s Crisis Line. Gianforte introduced the bill in August 2019 with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Congressmen Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.).
Gianforte’s bipartisan Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act, H.R. 4194, also cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee. The measure will set up an educational campaign recommended by suicide prevention advocates and the Federal Communications Commission to raise awareness for a three-digit suicide lifeline phone number, suicide prevention resources, and more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide. Gianforte introduced H.R. 4194 with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in October 2019.
In April 2019, Gianforte brought together providers, experts, and advocates for a round-table discussion in Billings about ideas to prevent suicide, reduce barriers to substance abuse treatment and mental health care, and increase access to care in underserved communities.
Later that year, Gianforte introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4194, to create a universal telephone number, 9-8-8, as the National Suicide Hotline. The bill cleared a critical hurdle in March of this year, passing the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.