Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Bryan Sherman and Alex Sherman visit with Charlie Craig and Beeshe Christensen at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention booth at a town hall meeting for suicide prevention at Ogden High School in Ogden on Monday, April 4, 2016.
Utah — the landscape, culture and people we love — holds a tragic secret. We have the fifth-highest suicide rate in the U.S. And the numbers across the nation are startling. Every 12 minutes someone commits suicide, and for every suicide-related death there are 25 attempts. These are heartbreaking statistics. This is a pattern we simply cannot ignore. Given that last week was National Suicide Prevention Week, let us take the opportunity to ask ourselves this: Is there more we can do to prevent these tragedies?
Too many of us have experienced the tragic loss of life and heartbreak that results from suicide. Those who have experienced this tragedy have expressed to me that, while there are many resources for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, it can be difficult to find these resources during a time of need. And while it’s true that the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has increased access to some degree, we can do better. The current dialing code is cumbersome and hard to remember (1-800-273-TALK), and most people have never heard of it. Additionally, in Utah and many other states, there are various entities providing services but not one consolidated number to call.
To better utilize existing resources and increase awareness and access, Sen. Orrin Hatch and I recently introduced the National Suicide Improvement Act (HR 2345). This bipartisan legislation asks the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to explore using a three-digit dialing code, similar to 911, for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The study will also examine the overall effectiveness of the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line and recommend ways to improve the existing system. I am eager to see this bipartisan bill move quickly through Congress. I also recognize that this legislation alone is not a panacea. There…