National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

New Bill Seeks to Ensure Upcoming Mental Health Crisis Hotline Serves the Most Vulnerable

Lawmakers want to secure funding for the new mental health crisis hotline, 988, which will serve as an alternative to 911 and aim to avoid unnecessary police confrontations

Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Jonathan Murillo, 23, was shot and killed by Los Angeles police last month moments before the arrival of mental health specialists who had been sent to respond to reports of a possible assault at the location.

A family member at the home had told police Murillo was armed with a knife and "possibly under the influence of narcotics," according to police.

The type of fatal interaction Murillo had with the police is what lawmakers and advocates hope to avoid with the creation of a new national three-digit mental health crisis hotline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which uses the 10-digit number 800-273-TALK (8255), will soon be referred to as 988. The goal is to reduce violent and deadly interactions between law enforcement and those experiencing mental illness.

The 988 hotline is supposed to be expanded by July, but Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., realized after Murillo's death near his district that many cities in almost every state lack adequate resources to effectively implement it by then.

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