Dem senator presses FCC to meet deadline for mental health hotline

Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should establish a three-digit hotline for suicide prevention and mental health crises “as soon as possible,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Wednesday.

Wyden cited statistics on suicides in Oregon released recently under the state’s “Breaking the Silence” reporting project, telling FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (R) that the Beaver State has seen rates above the national average for the past three decades and that more than 800 Oregonians take their own lives annually.

{mosads}“These numbers are devastating,” Wyden wrote. “But, unfortunately, they are not isolated. Suicide rates in Oregon and across the country have steadily increased since 2000. From 2000 to 2017, Oregon’s suicide rates increased 35 percent. It’s clear this public health crisis is not going away, and, to put it in stark terms, the current system of help is nowhere near adequate.”

Wyden said Pai recently cited progress in the initiative in a December letter, in which the FCC chairman said the commission was in the process of implementing the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, which creates such a three-digit code.

The law also directs the FCC to produce a report examining the associated logistics and costs of such an initiative, according to Wyden.

“Given the public interest in a study and report process that is both thorough and expedient, I urge you to keep your deadline of August 14, 2019,” Wyden wrote. “I appreciate your interest in this matter and look forward to working with you on this critical issue.”

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