In 2001, the state’s Department of Health was able to offer $1.1 million for suicide-prevention training.
It gave out just $98,000 this year.
While suicide and mental health are highly complex issues that can’t be addressed simply by throwing money at the health department, experts have found a relationship between suicide prevention funding and suicide rates.
“We have decreased our funding for suicide prevention, and there is a relationship to the cuts that you make … you do see the consequences of that,” Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, told the Minnesota Daily on Wednesday.
Considering this, Minnesota lawmakers have an opportunity to see what further funding for suicide prevention efforts can do for the rate of suicide. And with the state’s nearly $2 billion budget surplus, now is the time to invest in this crucial area. Even restoring prevention funding to half its 2001 levels would be just a drop in
the bucket for Minnesota’s finances.
This issue is especially important to college-aged people. Eighteen- to 25-year-olds have the highest rates of mental illness for any age group. And 6.6 percent of them have reported having serious thoughts of suicide, according to national data. On the University of Minnesota campus, 0.6 percent of students in the 2013 College Student Health Survey reported having attempted suicide in the past year. We urge lawmakers to consider these alarming statistics and to boost funding for suicide prevention efforts.