Sen. Cory Gardner Pushing For $80M For Suicide Prevention During Coronavirus Pandemic

April 23, 2020

(CBS4) – Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is part of a bipartisan effort to get an extra $80 million dollars in federal funding for critical suicide prevention programs during the coronavirus pandemic. The 14 lawmakers say the crisis poses serious test to Americans’ emotional and mental resiliency.

The lawmakers sent the request to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just 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.”

Specifically, the recommendation is that Congress allocate $50 million to respond to current and future crisis calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 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.

“An unacceptable average of 132 Americans died each day by suicide last year,” the senators wrote. “The social and economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 will only amplify the factors that lead to mental health challenges and suicide, and our nation will see these alarming statistics rise if we fail to adequately respond in time.”

“Lives are saved when people are connected to the resources they need to improve their mental well-being in a timely and empathetic manner,” the senators wrote.

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