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Katko Leading Bipartisan Drive to Bolster Aid for Suicide Crisis Centers

October 4, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., is leading a bipartisan initiative to bolster aid for suicide crisis centers.

The initiative, H.R. 4564, would amend the Public Health Service Act to ensure “the provision of high-quality service through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

It is co-sponsored by Reps. Donald Beyer Jr., D-Va., and Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

According to a release from Katko’s office, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline expects to receive 12 million calls over the next four years — matching the total number of calls it received over the 12-year period between 2005 and 2017.

Despite the growing demand, local crisis centers, which handle the majority of the calls, receive small stipends of just $1500 to $2500, far from enough to address callers needs.

“Crisis centers … work every day to help prevent suicide and provide counseling services for those in desperate need,” Rep. John Katko said. “But these organizations are already doing this tremendous work on a tight budget. 

“We need to support these organizations, and my bipartisan legislation does this both by bolstering funding and implementing programming to eliminate wait times, ensure those seeking assistance receive follow up, and make resources available to friends and family members of those in crisis,” he said

Specifically, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act:

  • Increases authorized funding for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline from $12 million to $50 million;
  • Requires HHS to develop and implement a plan to increase quality assurance, eliminate call wait times, implement evidence-based practices like follow-up, ensure resources are available to friends and family of those in crisis, create guidelines to carry out periodic testing of the Lifeline;
  • Requires increased coordination and data sharing between the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the CDC;
  • Creates a pilot program to research and employ innovative technologies for suicide prevention;
  • Requires a study and report to Congress from both HHS and GAO on the plan implemented by HHS to reform the Lifeline as well as other recommendations for improvement to the Lifeline’s operations

“Suicide has affected far too many families in our community and nationwide – and we have tremendous work to do to combat the prevalence of suicide and reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.  I remain committed to addressing this issue in Congress,” Katko said.

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