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 KatkoMcCarthy-allied fundraising group helps Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Bipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader Hillicon Valley — Industry groups want more time to report cybersecurity incidents 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 FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.) and Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs 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.