Rep. Seth Moulton calls for National Suicide Hotline Designation Act

BOSTON — Local leaders are asking Congress to designate a national mental health emergency hotline to help those suffering from mental illness.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is calling on Congress to pass The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which Moulton introduced with Utah Rep. Chris Stewart last week.

The bill would designate 9-8-8 as the universal phone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. Currently, the system operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line, two 10-digit numbers that are not easy to remember.

The Samaritans Helpline Call Center in Boston, which works to eliminate suicide, received 70,000 calls and texts to its hotline last year. Executive director Steve Mongeau said he believes that having a 9-8-8 hotline would be a turning point.

“This is what's going to finally drive down the rates of suicide in America,” Mongeau said.

Moulton said the hotline could help people who struggle with a range of mental health illnesses, including suicide, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I don't know if there's any other thing that I've done so far in Congress that will literally save so many lives as this bill,” Moulton said. “We've got to get it passed.”

Since Moulton and Stewart introduced the bill last week, 50 representatives have cosponsored it.