The NYS Senate passed legislation (S.6194B and S.5148), co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., to establish a three-digit, 9-8-8 suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and the “Suicide Awareness and Remembrance Flag” as the official state flag for raising awareness of veteran suicide.
“Suicide amongst our veterans remains a legislative priority for me and is a critical issue in New York State. The past year has exacerbated the problem for many individuals who felt isolated and overwhelmed as a result of the pandemic,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. “Raising awareness, along with expanding services like the new 9-8-8 hotline, will help those in need find critical support before it’s too late,” added the Senator.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in New York. In 2020, for every 100,000 New Yorkers, 8.28 lose their life to suicide. For people between the ages of 10 and 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death and for individuals between 35 and 54, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death. Nationally, roughly 6,000 veterans die each year due to suicide, with younger veterans, up to age 24, taking their lives at a higher rate than older veterans.
“The 9-8-8 number will make it easier for individuals at risk for suicide, as well as those experiencing mental health and substance abuse crises, to connect directly to trained suicide prevention counselors,” Addabbo said. “The Suicide Awareness and Remembrance Flag will raise awareness of veteran suicide while helping us remember and honor those who have served and fallen victim to suicide.”
Both bills were approved by the Senate and are now being considered in the Assembly.