July 16, 2020

Wyden: New Three-Digit Mental Health Hotline Will Create Much-Needed Lifeline

Citing alarming suicide rates in Oregon, Wyden has long pressed for this three-digit phone number

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said people in Oregon and nationwide facing a mental health crisis will have a much-needed lifeline with today’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision designating a new nationwide three-digit 988 phone hotline.

Citing alarming suicide statistics from Oregon and throughout out the United States, Wyden has been a long-time advocate for the FCC to take this step creating a three-digit number for people in a mental health crisis or considering suicide.

“This new 9-8-8 hotline will be a three-digit lifeline for people when they need it most,” Wyden said.

“Mental health must be treated with the same urgency as physical health,” he said. “Today’s decision making 9-8-8 the go-to, easy-to-remember phone number takes an important step toward achieving that goal – which is especially important in light of the many mental health challenges touched off by dealing with COVID-19.”

Wyden noted that the statewide “Breaking the Silence” reporting project last year in Oregon found suicide kills more than 800 Oregonians a year and that suicide rates in the state and across the country have steadily increased since 2000.

“This move will bring help closer to people in need -- this will be a 911 for the brain when it launches in 2022,” said Lines for Life CEO Dwight Holton. “Thanks to Senator Wyden for helping make this happen.”