February 22, 2021

1-800-273-8255. Please remember that phone number because it is our National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can save a life for someone in crisis. If you have a fire in your apartment, call 911 and if your garbage wasn’t picked up you can call 311. None of these numbers are appropriate for someone experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis. Many people say they want to prioritize mental health, especially after the recent stabbings on the A trains. It is time for a phone number for immediate help is easy to recall.

There is a steady stream of heart-wrenching tragedies in New York City, and the A train stabbings was only the most prominent this year. I introduced Intro 2222 after the death of Saheed Vassell in 2018. The legislation would establish a three-digit hotline, staffed by mental health call operators, for individuals experiencing a mental health emergency.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health challenges in New York City. Words cannot express the pain we have felt with the wave of death due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the emotional impacts will continue for years to come, and we need to be better prepared to support ourselves. That’s why I am proud to join Council Member Ayala in co-sponsoring Intro 2210, which would establish an Office of Community Mental Health.

We can’t wait until the next needless tragedy. We need to pass these bills as soon as possible.