Senators Wyden and Merkley join Multnomah County officials in discussing mental health

PORTLAND, Ore. – Local leaders and Oregon politicians came together Friday to say more needs to be done to treat mental health. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden says the state needs to protect what’s already working and create new strategies to address the mental health crisis.

Wyden says treating mental health is personal to him.

“Many people know my brother is a schizophrenic. For years and years, not a night went by we weren’t worried he would hurt himself or someone else,” he said.

Wyden and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley shared their efforts to protect mental health funding and create new initiatives to try and save lives.

Wyden has already introduced creating a national three-digit number for mental health crises.

“9-1-1 is very helpful, but it’s not the same thing as Lines for Life. It’s not the same thing as a dedicated line to help people when moments, literally moments, can make a big difference in terms of saving somebody’s life,” he said.

Merkley said he was shocked to learn nearly 10 percent of eighth graders in Oregon have attempted suicide in the past year. He said suicides out number opioid overdoses, homicidal violence and car accidents.