Starting July 16, Coloradans Can Dial Easy-to-Remember 9-8-8 for Mental Health Support
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet released the following statement as 9-8-8 becomes available to use tomorrow, July 16, as the new, easy-to-remember National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL):
“We are in the middle of a mental and behavioral health crisis. I hear about it everywhere I go in Colorado. I’m hopeful that with this shortened number, we can expand support for people in need of immediate help. I will keep working to make sure our state has the resources to expand the lifeline’s services and ensure a quick and easy transition for Coloradans.”
The NSPL is a national network of crisis centers linked through a 24/7 toll-free number that connects callers to immediate crisis care with trained counselors. Bennet co-sponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which was signed into law in 2020 to create 9-8-8 and help make mental health support more accessible. Bennet continues to push for funding to ensure smooth implementation of the updated number and expand the lifeline’s services. Bennet helped pass the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) omnibus funding bill, which ncluded $6.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including $101.6 million for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and 9-8-8 implementation.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed into law last month includes $150 million in one-time funding to strengthen the 9-8-8 NSPL. This aligns with Bennet’s Suicide and Crisis Outreach Prevention Enhancement Act, which he introduced with U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) in July 2021. This bipartisan legislation would expand and enhance the capacity of the NSPL and mental health crisis centers. It aims to increase awareness of the lifeline through outreach campaigns, collect and report on demographic data on individuals accessing the lifeline, as well as increase the capacity of the lifeline and crisis centers to provide mental health crisis intervention services.
In December 2021, Bennet announced that Colorado would receive up to $2.4 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services to implement 9-8-8.
The current NSPL, 1-800-273-TALK, will continue to operate alongside the new 9-8-8 number.