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Rep. Chris Stewart’s bill for three-digit suicide hotline number heads to president’s desk

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks at the groundbreaking for the Bountiful Veterans Park in Bountiful on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, speaks at the groundbreaking for the Bountiful Veterans Park in Bountiful on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Legislation championed by Rep. Chris Stewart to create a national suicide hotline number is headed to the president’s desk.

Stewart, R-Utah, and retired Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, started the effort to designate a three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in 2017. The bill to make 988 the national number for mental health emergencies passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.

“If your house is on fire, call 911. If you need the police, call 911. If you’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, 988 is going to get you help,” Stewart said in a speech on the House floor Monday.

The Senate will now take up Stewart’s Suicide Prevention Act, which he said enhances data collection and sharing in real-time, as appropriate, to help save lives. It also provides resources for preventing suicide among emergency department patients.

Paired with the real-time data collection, the hotline number will help reverse the tragic trend of suicide, Stewart said.