House Passes Bills to Prevent Suicide Deaths, Improve 2-1-1 Hotline

DENVER, CO– The House has passed two bills on Third Reading and final passage that would better connect Coloradans with critical behavioral health support. 

“For every person who dies by suicide, there are 280 people who seriously consider suicide but do not attempt it,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “Suicide in general, and particularly teen suicide, has risen dramatically in Colorado over the last several years. Establishing the 988 suicide prevention network in Colorado will provide a lifeline for people having a mental health crisis. I’m thrilled that this critical bill is almost to the finish line.”

SB21-154, sponsored by Representatives Lisa Cutter and Matt Soper, would implement the 988 national suicide prevention lifeline network in Colorado. By calling this number, individuals will be provided with crisis outreach, stabilization, and acute care that aims to prevent suicide deaths. The bill aims to establish the new hotline by January 20222. The bill passed unanimously. The bill passed today by a vote of 53-10. 

“The 2-1-1 human services referral system connects Coloradans with critical resources such as housing assistance, vaccination information, and nutrition support, and now, it will refer Coloradans to behavioral health services, too,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Navigating the behavioral health system is sometimes the single most significant barrier to accessing care. By adding behavioral health services to the 2-1-1 hotline, we’re creating a new entry point for Coloradans to be connected to the mental health care and services they need.” 

“Colorado has a mental health crisis, and the pandemic has only made it more challenging for people to connect with behavioral health providers and access the care they need,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “Soon, Coloradans will be able to dial 2-1-1 and be connected with critical mental health care services. This, in addition to the 2-1-1 system, will benefit a lot of Coloradans, and especially people who are unemployed or do not have health care.” 

SB21-239, sponsored by Representatives Judy Amabile and Mary Young, would improve the  2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System. The bill appropriates $1 million to expand referral services authorized by the Colorado 2-1-1 collaborative to include referrals for behavioral health services and other resources in the state. By doing so, the 2-1-1 hotline will be able to connect more Coloradans with the mental health services they need. The bill additionally focuses on connecting Coloradans who are unemployed or who do not have health benefits to mental and behavioral health services. The bill passed Tuesday by a vote of 48-15.

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