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42 U.S. Code § 290bb–36c - National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program

(a) In general

The Secretary, acting through the Assistant Secretary, shall maintain the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program (referred to in this section as the “program”), authorized under section 290bb–32 of this title and in effect prior to December 13, 2016.

(b) ActivitiesIn maintaining the program, the activities of the Secretary shall include—
supporting and coordinating a network of crisis centers across the United States for providing suicide prevention and mental health crisis intervention services, including appropriate follow-up services, to individuals seeking help at any time, day or night;
maintaining a suicide prevention hotline to link callers to local emergency, mental health, and social services resources;
consulting with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans calling the suicide prevention hotline have access to a specialized veterans’ suicide prevention hotline;
improving awareness of the program for suicide prevention and mental health crisis intervention services, including by conducting an awareness initiative and ongoing outreach to the public; and
improving the collection and analysis of demographic information, in a manner that protects personal privacy, consistent with applicable Federal and State privacy laws, in order to understand disparities in access to the program among individuals who are seeking help.
(c) Plan
(1) In general

For purposes of supporting the crisis centers under subsection (b)(1) and maintaining the suicide prevention hotline under subsection (b)(2), the Secretary shall develop and implement a plan to ensure the provision of high-quality services.

(2) ContentsThe plan required by paragraph (1) shall include the following:
Program evaluation, including performance measures to assess progress toward the goals and objectives of the program and to improve the responsiveness and performance of the hotline, including at all backup call centers.
(B) Requirements that crisis centers and backup centers must meet—
to participate in the network under subsection (b)(1); and
to ensure that each telephone call and applicable other communication received by the hotline, including at backup call centers, is answered in a timely manner, consistent with evidence-based guidance or other guidance or best practices, as appropriate.
Specific recommendations and strategies for implementing evidence-based practices, including with respect to followup and communicating the availability of resources in the community for individuals in need.
Criteria for carrying out periodic testing of the hotline during each fiscal year, including at crisis centers and backup centers, to identify and address any problems in a timely manner.
(3) Consultation

In developing requirements under paragraph (2)(B), the Secretary shall consult with State departments of health, local governments, Indian Tribes, and Tribal organizations.

(4) Initial plan; updatesThe Secretary shall—
not later than 1 year after December 29, 2022, complete development of the initial plan under paragraph (1) and make such plan publicly available; and
periodically thereafter, update such plan and make the updated plan publicly available.
(d) Improving epidemiological data

The Secretary shall, as appropriate, formalize and strengthen agreements between the Suicide Prevention Lifeline program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with respect to the secure sharing of de-identified epidemiological data. Such agreements shall include appropriate privacy and security protections that meet the requirements of applicable Federal law, at a minimum.

(e) Data to assist State and local suicide prevention activities

The Secretary shall ensure that the aggregated information collected and any applicable analyses conducted under subsection (b)(5), including from local call centers, as applicable, are made available in a usable format to State and local agencies in order to inform suicide prevention activities.

(f) Authorization of appropriations

To carry out this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $101,621,000 for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2027.

(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title V, § 520E–3, as added Pub. L. 114–255, div. B, title IX, § 9005, Dec. 13, 2016, 130 Stat. 1239; amended Pub. L. 117–328, div. FF, title I, § 1103(a), Dec. 29, 2022, 136 Stat. 5637.)
Editorial Notes

2022—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(1)(A), inserted “supporting and” before “coordinating” and substituted “mental health crisis intervention services, including appropriate follow-up services,” for “crisis intervention services”.

Subsec. (b)(4), (5). Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(1)(B)–(D), added pars. (4) and (5).

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(2)(B), added subsec. (c). Former subsec. (c) redesignated (f).

Subsecs. (d), (e). Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(3), added subsecs. (d) and (e).

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(4), amended subsec. (f) generally. Prior to amendment, text read as follows: “To carry out this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $7,198,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022.”

Pub. L. 117–328, § 1103(a)(2)(A), redesignated subsec. (c) as (f).

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Pilot Program on Innovative Technologies

Pub. L. 117–328, div. FF, title I, § 1103(b), (e), Dec. 29, 2022, 136 Stat. 5639, 5640, provided that:

“(b) Pilot Program on Innovative Technologies.—
“(1) In general.—
The Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, shall, as appropriate, carry out a pilot program to research, analyze, and employ various technologies and platforms of communication (including social media platforms, texting platforms, and email platforms) for suicide prevention in addition to the telephone and online chat service provided by the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“(2) Report.—Not later than 24 months after the date on which the pilot program under paragraph (1) commences, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, shall submit to the Congress a report on the pilot program. With respect to each platform of communication employed pursuant to the pilot program, the report shall include—
a full description of the program;
the number of individuals served by the program;
the average wait time for each individual to receive a response;
the cost of the program, including the cost per individual served; and
any other information the Secretary determines appropriate.
“(e) Definition.—
In this section, the term ‘Suicide Prevention Lifeline’ means the suicide prevention hotline maintained pursuant to section 520E–3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 290bb–36c).”