MDH provides temporary funding to keep suicide crisis line open
ST PAUL, MINN. — Recognizing the importance of providing mental health services and support to those in crisis, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has put forth a temporary funding solution to keep open a Minnesota-based branch of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
MDH committed $139,000 of previously awarded federal suicide prevention funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to maintain a Minnesota site for the National Suicide Prevention Line in light of the potential closing of the Crisis Connection call center. The additional funding is expected to keep the line open at least until September 29.
“With Minnesota facing historically high suicide rates and an opioid addiction epidemic, we were concerned about losing this life-saving resource that serves tens of thousands of Minnesotans every year,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “This is not a permanent fix, but it will keep the suicide prevention line open for people in crisis and provide time to find a lasting solution.”
According to the MDH, Minnesota recorded 726 suicides for 2015, up from 686 in the prior year.
Canvas Health, the non-profit that receives national suicide prevention line calls in their Crisis Connection call center, will continue helping those facing a mental health emergency who call the national suicide prevention line. The Health department is advising mental health providers and those in a crisis to call 1-800-273-8255, which is the Minnesota National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. County crisis services are also available.
The MDH funds are coming from temporary program shifts and salary savings in the MDH suicide prevention unit. Without these funds, Minnesota’s calls would have been routed to another state accepting overflow calls, which could result in longer wait times and little access to Minnesota resources, if needed.
South Central Crisis Center in Mankato has a 24-hour crisis line and mobile crisis team which can be reached at (507) 344-0621 or (877) 399-3040
MDH is in conversations with other state and federal agencies, as well as non-profit partners and other stakeholders about a long-term plan for ensuring an effective, user-friendly and sustainable network of crisis lines.
With increased demand for mental health services in rural areas, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is also working to secure commitments for a dedicated hot line to serve ranchers and farmers.