Lawmakers ask for increase in suicide prevention funding

Lawmakers ask for increase in suicide prevention funding
© Greg Nash

Two House lawmakers are asking for more funds for suicide prevention efforts in the wake of a report that showed rising rates across the country.

Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoProtesters confront Ivanka Trump on family separations Progressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE (R-N.Y.), co-chairs of the bipartisan House Suicide Prevention Task Force, noted Wednesday that funding for suicide prevention programs has remained flat or decreased in recent years.

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"Congress cannot afford to continue to undercut investments in critical programs that help prevent suicide," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Reps. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority Puerto Rico mayor: Territory's profile has grown since hurricanes House panel advances homeland security bill with billion in border wall funding MORE (R-N.J.) and Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyWomen poised to take charge in Dem majority Trump faces long odds in avoiding big spending bill House panel advances homeland security bill with billion in border wall funding MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman and ranking member respectively of the House Appropriations Committee.

"We need to be doing more to combat suicide, not less."

They also asked House appropriators for $150 million for suicide prevention research within the National Institutes of Mental Health. 

An analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week showed suicide rates have increased in every state except Nevada since 1999 — with half of those states seeing an increase of 30 percent. 

In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died as a result of suicide, according to the CDC, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

But public health experts note that it does not receive the same attention as other leading causes of death.

"Suicide is now one of the three leading causes of death in the U.S. that are on the rise, joining Alzheimer's disease and drug overdose," the lawmakers wrote. 

"Congress has taken steps to more effectively address Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses caused by opioids, but we can do more when it comes to suicide prevention." 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.