Ryan Leavitt

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Ryan W. Leavitt is a partner with Barker Leavitt law firm and is a member of the Washington, DC Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. He served as a Senate Judiciary Committee Counsel, a Senate Legislative Director, as a Deputy Chief of Staff, and other senior positions in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

He was part of the project to designate the number 988 as the quick link by text or call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States answered by professional counselors who are trained to provide support and assistance.

For decades suicide has been a leading cause of death among all age groups, increasing by 30 percent since 1999. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States was created to give immediate professional counseling to individuals in emotional distress. The number, however, was long and difficult to remember: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Working under Senator Orrin Hatch, Leavitt helped create a bill that directed the Federal Communications Commission to designate the number 988 for the lifeline. To make the bill a reality, several acts had to be written, passed by Congress, and eventually signed into law by the president. “It is complicated and takes time,” explains Leavitt, “but that’s how the government works.”[1]

The new number became available on July 16, 2022, and has resulted in a significant jump in calls and texts to the national hotline.

During his time on Capitol Hill, Leavitt has worked on important policy regarding human trafficking, sexual-assault crimes, DNA collection, and more. But said, “Of my 10 years working in Congress, this is the thing that I am the most proud of.”[2]

Leavitt holds a Juris Doctor degree from George Mason University School of Law and clerked for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University.

His wife, Alison Barker Leavitt, worked on the 988 project while a press secretary for Congressman Chris Stewart.

Source: BYU Magazine, “Answering the Call,” by Margaret J. Sheffield