(CBS4) – This week U.S. Senate unanimously passed Sen. Cory Gardner’s bill to designate 988 as the national suicide prevention hotline. Gardner introduced the bill last fall, saying getting mental health help should be as easy as calling 911 for medical emergencies.

Colorado has one of the highest rates of suicide in the United states.

“Combatting rising suicide rates in Colorado has been a top priority of mine and why I’ve led the charge in the Senate to establish the 988 national suicide hotline,” Gardner said.

“The tragic fact is, we lose a Coloradan to death by suicide on average every seven hours, and we must keep fighting to provide mental health support to Coloradans in need, particularly in this time of crisis.”

Calls to the mental health crisis line in Colorado have spiked 47 percent due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where the Republican senator says he will continue to push for the creation of 988.