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After Spade and Bourdain, Schumer Wants to Increase Funding for Suicide Prevention
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11 Jun 2018 05:35 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer, Image: Chuck Schumer (Image source: United States Senate via Wikimedia Commons)


It was hard not to sit back and really examine the prevalence of suicide last week after two celebrities, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both took their own lives. Sen. Chuck Schumer must have been thinking about it as well, and along with a report on the state of suicides across the country, he wants to increase funding for suicide prevention.

Designer Kate Spade was found on Tuesday morning unresponsive after hanging herself with a red scarf on her doorknob. There's some disagreement over what brought her to that, but her sister had said Kate refused to seek counseling for her depression because she didn't want to tarnish her "brand."

Three days later, in France, chef/TV host Anthony Bourdain was found in his hotel room after hanging himself, again from a doorknob. Both he and Spade left children behind.

"Recent tragedies and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] report on increased suicide rates from last week are the kinds of things that put a giant lump in your throat and a hole in your heart," said Schumer on Sunday.

He was referring to a new CDC report that stated there has been approximately a 30 percent jump in suicides in New York state since 1999. This meets up with the national average, with nearly every state experiencing an increase in that same time frame.

"But to make matters more troubling, while the numbers shot up, the federal government has back-burnered the crisis of suicide by flat-funding critical prevention programs and efforts aimed at reaching people during their darkest hours to try and rescue them," stated Schumer.

One of those flat-funded programs is the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention State Grants. Since 2013 it has received $35.42 million annually. 41,149 Americans took their own lives that year. In 2016 that number rose to 45,000. It's the 10th leading cause of death in the country.

Additionally, the toll-free Suicide Lifeline has also seen funding stall. It receives a flat fee of $7 million every year since 2013. The GLS Suicide Prevention Resource Center, working with colleges and states, has received a flat $5.9 million since 2013.

"Statistics show that if we can reach troubled people before, even in the midst of suicide ideation, there is a good chance they can be helped," said the senator. "We must do better."

Schumer did allow that n 2017 Zero suicide was created, a federal program with $9 million behind it to help healthcare providers treat patients whom they feel could be edging toward suicide.

But Schumer doesn't think that's enough, stating, "We need to ramp up the funding for suicide prevention efforts across the board, triage the flat-funding and extend the hand of the federal government to the communities' caregivers, and families coping with such a painful problem."

If you are feeling as though you are edging towards suicide, there is still always help through these programs mentioned. We urge you to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 and through their website.

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