U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly/High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is pictured recently.

John J. Watkins, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is expanding his ongoing efforts to eliminate military suicide by working with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to advance an innovative idea for reducing suicide in America generally.

The lawmakers this week won unanimous Senate approval for their plan to require the Federal Communications Commission to study whether an easy-to-remember, nationwide, three-digit telephone number connecting individuals contemplating suicide to crisis resources could prevent people from taking their own lives.

"I'm pleased our bipartisan legislation has passed the Senate, because it could make a difference for families in Indiana and across the country," Donnelly said. "I hope the House will quickly pass this legislation."

The veteran Utah lawmaker said numerous family members of suicide victims have told him that their loved ones simply didn't know where to turn for help.

"While there is no perfect solution to this devastating problem, this legislation is a step in the right direction," Hatch said. "By providing those who suffer with faster, easier access to lifesaving resources, we can prevent countless tragedies."

The legislation also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to evaluate how effectively the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line are meeting the needs of former service members.

The House has yet to schedule a vote on Senate Bill 1015.

A similar measure, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, and Munster native Todd Rokita, R-Brownsburg, has been pending in a House committee since May.

The current telephone number for the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.