SCHUMER REVEALS: FEDS HAVE FLAT-FUNDED SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAMS FOR YEARS JUST AS NEW CDC WARNING SHOWS DEATHS ON DRAMATIC RISE ACROSS U.S. AND IN NEW YORK; SENATOR DEMANDS RAMP-UP IN FED FUNDING TO REACH MORE PEOPLE IN PAIN & POTENTIALLY SAVE PRECIOUS LIVES
According To NEW CDC Data, New York Alone Has Seen A 30% Rise In Suicides Since Start Of Millennium, With Numbers Now Rising In Nearly Every State
Despite Jaw-Drop Trend Of Deaths, Feds Have Flatlined Suicide Prevention Funds & Grant Programs That People Turn To In Darkest Of Times; Senator Says If We Ramp This Up, We Can Stem The Tide Of Tragedy
Schumer: Americans Are Calling Out For A Lifeline –The Feds Need To Lead & Extend The Hand, Now
On the heels of a new federal study that shows suicide rates getting worse in the United States, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed today that the federal government has actually been flat-funding critical suicide prevention funds and grant programs—for years now. Schumer cited the new Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics on suicide and the flat-funded programs as he made the case for a new federal focus and ramp-up of suicide prevention dollars.
“Recent tragedies and the CDC report on increased suicide rates from last week are the kinds of things that put a giant lump in your throat and a hole in your heart,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “But to make matters more troubling, while the numbers shot up, the federal government has back-burnered the crisis of suicide by flat-funding critical prevention programs and efforts aimed at reaching people during their darkest hours to try and rescue them. So, today, I am shining a new light on this issue for Congress, because the numbers depict a real public health crisis that requires more federal attention and a ramp up of funding that can better connect caregivers and other professionals to people in need. Statistics show that if we can reach troubled people before, even in the midst of suicide ideation, there is a good chance they can be helped. We must do better.”
According to the new CDC study, suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016 and in 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. The report said that suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S.. According to the report, New York saw a 30 percent rise from 199-2016 in its suicide rate, and a New Yorker takes their own life every five hours. The CDC says suicide is rarely caused by a single factor and that suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and supporting people at risk. However, Schumer revealed today that the federal funding for these types of programs has lagged for years, staying flatlined, despite the rising rate of suicide from state-to-state and the CDC’s own record keeping.
Since as far back as 2013, Schumer said some of the most critical federal programs have gone stagnant in terms of their federal funding. Schumer pointed to three main programs: First, the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Suicide Prevention State Grants, which have been funded at $35.427 million since 2013. The grants are named after Sen. Gordon Smith’s son, who was lost to suicide in 2003. This federal pot of dollars includes $23 million in discretionary federal dollars that can be used by states in a variety of ways—from mental health counseling to outreach on college campuses and in communities. And $12 million in prevention and public health dollars that go towards anything from education to counseling. Schumer said that in 2015, 18 percent of high school students seriously considered suicide, significantly up for 14 percent in 2009, underlining the need to support this grant program as robustly as possible.
The second program Schumer referenced was federal funding for Suicide Lifeline. Since 2013, the 24-hour, toll-free, confidential hotline has flat-lined received roughly $7 million dollars a year. According to the program, it has helped more than 6 million people since its inception in January 2005 and is available to people from anywhere in the United States. The Lifeline’s network of more than 160 crisis centers is something Schumer says should be further invested in so that more people can be reached. Schumer said that experts believe that the decision to kill oneself is often fast and impulsive, with as little as 5-10 minutes between the decision and the attempt. Users even have the option to text or live chat with a crisis counselor. According to the feds, most callers ‘report decreased feelings of distress and hopelessness and fewer thoughts about suicide as a result of their calls.’
The third program Schumer referenced was federal funding for the GLS Suicide Prevention Resource Center. The center is the hub for national strategy to prevent suicide. The center works with states and colleges to lead programs, training and direct federal resources that can be used by caregivers and professionals on the ground level in American cities. Since 2013, the program has been flat-funded with roughly $5.9 million dollars.
Schumer did cite some progress in stemming the suicide tide with the 2017 creation of a new federal program called ‘Zero Suicide’ but said this program, too, deserves additional federal dollars, given the CDC suicide report. The Zero Suicide program received $9 million in 2017 and is charged with empowering health care providers with the tools and training to identify, engage and treat those suffering with conditions that lead to suicide ideation.
“The bottom line is that suicide—which took more than 45,000 lives last year, rising more and more, is not receiving the robust federal support necessary to reach the kinds of numbers the data tells us needs to be reached. We need to ramp up the funding for suicide prevention efforts across the board, triage the flat-funding and extend the hand of the federal government to the communities, caregivers and families coping with such a painful problem,” Schumer concluded.
According to the CDC, states and communities can do the following things to help combat this rise in suicide numbers, but Schumer said these things, the kind of outreach below, requires robust federal investment:
- -Identify and support people at risk of suicide.
- -Teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with their relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.
- -Promote safe and supportive environments. This includes safely storing medications and firearms to reduce access among people at risk.
- -Offer activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone.
- -Connect people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare.
- -Expand options for temporary help for those struggling to make ends meet.
Schumer called out Congress’ status quo funding levels, saying they demand attention given the clear public health crisis detailed by the latest suicide rates. Schumer pledged to implore his colleagues in Congress to heed this new warning and combat suicide deaths with resources that allow caregivers and other professionals to reach more people in pain and potentially save lives. Schumer said Americans are calling out for a lifeline and that the feds need to lead, now.
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