Oregon lawmakers consider suicide prevention bills

PORTLAND, Oregon — State lawmakers in Oregon are considering several bills designed to improve how people in crisis get help, specifically for those struggling with thoughts of suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Oregon ranks 13th in the nation for deaths by suicide.

On Monday, lawmakers will hear testimony on SB 818 and SB 514. The bills focus on suicide prevention by supporting access to training resources for medical professionals.

Last week, the House Committee on Behavioral and Health Care heard testimony on HB 2757. It asks lawmakers to support a 50-cent cellphone tax to fund services connected to 988. The resource works like 911, but callers are routed straight to mental health crisis lines.

Since Oregon transitioned to 988 in July, call centers, including Lines for Life, report they’ve received an average of 684 more calls per month, about a 50% bump. It shows the system is working but advocates say in order to meet that growing need, additional funding is critical.

“For myself and so many others like me, that 50-cent amount … if it means it’s going to save someone’s life, to me it is worth 100,000 times that,” said Angela Perry, board chair of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention Oregon Chapter. Perry also lives with chronic suicidal ideation and is passionate about turning her pain into purpose.

“I never wanted to die. I don’t want to die,” Perry said. “But my brain every day, I have to fight those thoughts. I just hope other people are able to see it’s OK to not be OK, but it’s not OK to stay there.”

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