Suicide Prevention Hotline Bill advances

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Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Capital Square

Emma Marsing, [email protected]

CHEYENNE, WYOMING — House Bill 65 held tight as it cleared its way through the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services committee Monday to a vote of 3-2. House Bill 65, originally sponsored by the Joint Revenue Committee, declares establishing a 988 phone system in which people and youth specifically can call or text and get immediate help from a certified behavior specialist.

According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, “Wyoming School Board Association representative Boyd Brown came before the committee to support House Bill 65. He said the largest number of calls coming into Safe2Tell were reports of self-harm or suicide, and there is no person on the other end with a behavioral health background to respond. Brown said he believes the hotline is a way to get struggling students help quickly, but he said he didn’t have information as to the root of their mental health crises.”

As of 2022, Wyoming held the number one spot with the highest suicidal rate in the United States. In the United States as a whole, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death. Jackson Hole News & Guide quoted Wyoming Business Alliance President Cindy DeLancey as she stated, “In Wyoming and the business community, our people are our most important asset, and anything that we can do to try to help our people be at their best and really move Wyoming out of that number one position is something that we strongly stand in support of. Because, unfortunately, that is not the number one that Wyoming wants.”

News Now reported by including a final quote from Lindsay Simineo with the Wyoming Counseling Association stating, “There’s no words to express how much of a need this is for Wyoming. To be able to have a 24-hour in-state hotline that anyone can access including adolescents through the text feature is going to be a huge foundational component to our mental health infrastructure.”

At this time, the funding for this bill can cost upwards of $2.0 million. House Bill 65 must pass through the senate three times before becoming law through Governor Gordon. As of today at 10:00 a.m., the Senate has passed it for a third time by 19-12.