SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to create a statewide mental health crisis line passed unanimously Thursday in the Utah House and now heads to the governor's desk for his signature.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, both worked with Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton on SB37.
Newton has spoken publicly about the need for a statewide suicide hotline, telling of how she was recently at a loss when her son, who had been battling depression, told her he didn't want to continue living.
In a committee meeting earlier this month, Newton said she was "heartbroken" when she didn't know where to turn to help her child in that moment.
Utah has 19 crisis intervention phone numbers, but many of them either route to 911 dispatch, lead to an automated menu or even send the caller to an inbox if they call after hours, Eliason told lawmakers on the House floor Thursday.
Eliason called SB37 a "life-saving bill" because it would create a commission made up of mental health workers and physicians to establish a single hotline that would be accessible 24/7.
Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, urged lawmakers to support the bill, telling of how his campaign manager's daughter had recently committed suicide.
"The last call she made was to a behavioral help unit looking for help," Fawson said. "The provider was unavailable."
The hotline will save lives, he said, "especially our kids and those who are most desperate and in need of emotional support."