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Statement from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services on Local 988 Response Act of 2023 introduced by U.S. Congressman Cárdenas

CULVER CITY, Calif. – Aug. 11, 2023 – As a longtime national leader in suicide prevention and advocate for the crisis care continuum – someone to call, someone to respond, and somewhere to go – Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is encouraged by the efforts to improve access to local in-person crisis care services.

We strongly support Congressmember Cárdenas’ Local 988 Response Act of 2023 (H.R. 4974), as it would require the Federal Communications Commission to route calls based on the caller’s approximate location (local cell tower) and thus, ensure routing to the nearest crisis center responding to 988 Lifeline contacts that is best equipped to connect them to local services.

We appreciate and understand the privacy concerns with a system that would identify a caller’s exact location (known as geo-location) and support the solution of “geo routing” to maintain privacy without limiting access to critical local resources. 

Didi Hirsch serves as the lead 988 center for the state of California, supporting the other 11 crisis centers that respond to 988 contacts in the state. As the lead agency, we can attest that routing by area code is causing challenges with connecting 988 callers to local resources across the state. Routing calls by a caller’s area code is an issue when a help-seeker wants to connect with local crisis support services like a mobile crisis response team which is locally managed and deployed.

We are hopeful that this bill will advance to address this gap in the crisis care continuum which impacts the entire country and thus improve the experience of help-seekers contacting the 988 Lifeline for support.

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About Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
For more than 80 years, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has served as a national leader in whole-person mental health, crisis care and substance use services. With deep roots in community-based mental health, Didi Hirsch is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing health equity, especially where poverty or stigma limits access to care. As a pioneer in suicide prevention and crisis care for all ages, Didi Hirsch founded the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles in 1958, leads the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline across California, oversees Teen Line, and is one of five operators for the national Disaster Distress Helpline. In addition to providing multilingual crisis care support, the Suicide Prevention Center serves as a model of care internationally and offers outpatient therapy, support groups for survivors of suicide loss and suicide attempts and suicide prevention trainings. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.

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