Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Jerry Moran (R-KS), along with 10 of their colleagues, are making a bipartisan push to provide the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) with $80 million to support critical suicide prevention activities amid a public health crisis that is upending the social and financial stability of countless Americans.
The letter, which was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, comes as Congress starts discussing the next coronavirus relief legislation.
“The global pandemic has drastically disrupted the life of every American. As a result, millions of individuals are experiencing heightened levels of fear, anxiety, social isolation, stress, and more. These factors, when felt concurrently, effect a person’s mental health and often lead to increased episodes of suicidal ideation,” the senators wrote. “The emotional and mental resiliency of our nation is being tested. Americans are looking to Congress to invest in programs that offer a lifeline of support when a person has nowhere else to turn.” In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34—with LGBTQ youth at particular risk. Individualized interventions provided by crisis hotlines and mobile response teams can help reduce risk factors that culminate in suicide attempts.
Specifically, the senators’ bipartisan recommendation is that Congress allocate $50 million to respond to current and future crisis call volume, and an additional $30 million to expand crisis chat capacity, including an effort to increase accessibility by shortening the Lifeline’s phone number from ten digits to three.
Senators Merkley, Gardner, Reed, and Moran were joined in sending the letter by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Robert Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The full text of the letter is available here.
Coronavirus crisis poses serious test to Americans’ emotional and mental resiliency
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