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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the routing of calls to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to local call centers.

Currently, calls to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline are routed to a call center based on a phone’s area code. This process can result in a call center mismatch, as over 80 percent of the calls are from cell phones that may not be in the same geographic location as their area code.

The 988 Lifeline Location Improvement Act of 2023 is a critical step in evaluating and planning for the most appropriate ways to route calls to local call centers. Local call centers are better equipped to assist those in need through a better understanding of the community and local resources. In addition, local call centers can more efficiently dispatch emergency services to a caller in need.

“The enactment of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has helped save lives in Wyoming and across the country. Our focus should always be on finding ways to provide timely and helpful resources for Americans when they need them the most,” said Senator Barrasso. “Right now, callers are patched through to call centers based on their phone’s area code, not their physical location. Our bipartisan legislation is a critical step toward sending 988 calls to local call centers. This will enable callers to receive care from professionals who understand their surroundings and a quicker response from dispatch emergency services for those in need. In Congress, we are committed to helping the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline be an effective and reliable solution for Americans seeking help.”

“Having a simple phone number to call when you are in crisis and have nowhere to turn can be the difference between life and death. The 9-8-8 hotline is a vital resource for New Mexicans facing mental health crises and has saved lives nationwide,” said Senator Luján. “In times of emergency, it's critical that Americans are able to get help locally from those who are best positioned to provide resources. Supporting those in a mental health crisis is critical. This bipartisan legislation is an important step in getting resources more quickly to the people that need it most. "

This legislation is supported by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), CTIA, and Vibrant Emotional Health.

“Nationwide availability of 988 has provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine how we respond to people in mental health crisis. NAMI is grateful that the 988 Lifeline Location Improvement Act of 2023 would start the task of identifying the unique privacy and legal challenges associated with transmitting geolocation information with calls to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline so we can ensure caller privacy but also best help people seeking in-person support.” – Hannah Wesolowski, Chief Advocacy Officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

“We commend Senators Barrasso and Luján for their bipartisan introduction of the 988 Lifeline Location Improvement Act of 2023 and their focus on ensuring Americans in need can access the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline network. The wireless industry is committed to ensuring those seeking life-saving mental health services are connected to the 988 Lifeline and its affiliated crisis centers, and this legislation recognizes the importance of getting geo-routing right. We look forward to working with Congress on our shared goal of making sure Americans can access this vital resource when they need it most.” – Kelly Cole, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, CTIA


The 988 Lifeline Location Improvement Act of 2023 would:

  • Establish a multi-stakeholder advisory committee tasked with studying policy, legal, technical, and financial challenges associated with transmitting location information of calls to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
  • Require the committee to submit a report to Congress within one year with a detailed summary of the findings and recommendations for legislation and administrative actions.
  • Direct the committee to evaluate the most appropriate location implantation methods, including call routing to local call centers.
  • Direct the committee to examine the policy implications regarding the privacy of the caller with respect to including dispatchable location information with calls to 988.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.