Mar 22 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Mental Health Caucus, recently joined U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to announce a critical step to improve the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

“The 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been an important resource in connecting those in crisis with necessary care, and I’m excited about this next step to further improve the Lifeline,” said Senator Tillis. “Ensuring callers are routed to crisis centers based on their geographic location as opposed to their device’s area code will allow for a quicker and more localized response for individuals in crisis and, as co-chair of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, I’m proud that this new capability will soon become a reality.”

The proposal contains provisions from the Local 9-8-8 Response Act of 2023, introduced by Senators Tillis and Padilla, which would expedite the process of connecting 9-8-8 Lifeline callers with their nearest call center so they can receive appropriate care and resources from mental health professionals and local public safety officials as quickly as possible, while protecting user privacy.  

The bipartisan 9-8-8 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has been critical for supporting Americans in crisis, but currently, calls to the hotline are routed by area code rather than by the caller’s location. As awareness of the hotline increases, it is crucial to ensure that operators can quickly connect callers to a range of mental health services and a full continuum of care.