JEFFERSON CITY — State Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, issued the following statement relating to Suicide Prevention Month, which runs throughout September:
“Behavioral health awareness, especially as it relates to suicide, is a top concern of many Missourians. Due to the pandemic, this concern has only grown over the past two years. Social isolation, constraints on people’s ability to work, the inability to seek support from loved ones and a decrease in community engagement have only added to this problem. Depression and anxiety disorders are leading factors in suicide and suicide ideation.
“A January 2021 report by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health showed that suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Missouri, and the second leading cause of death for 10 to 17-year-olds. The report also states that rural areas in Missouri have slightly higher suicide rates than metropolitan areas and that suicide rates are highest in the Kansas City and southwest regions. Because of these troubling statistics, and because this is impacting us so close to home, we must act.
“Financial resources, education and awareness are three major components of our plan to bring this health crisis into the light. The Missouri General Assembly included in the Fiscal Year 2023 state operating budget more than $30 million to help Missouri launch the new Missouri Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988. This number went live nationwide on July 16 and providers across the state have already reported a 50 percent increase in call volume over the former 800 number. As the vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have helped secure the funding for this vital lifeline.
“We also enacted a law requiring this new crisis lifeline number to be printed on student IDs for those in elementary, secondary and higher education. Making students across the state aware that help is available will save lives; however, these two changes will not solve all our problems. Continued investments into access to care, especially in our rural areas, is vital. I look forward to continuing my support of programs that help gain access to care and support for resources that provide for education and awareness into our current behavioral health crisis.
“If you or someone you know is battling depression or having suicidal thoughts, reach out, whether it’s to friends, family or by calling 988. There are a lot of great people in our state who want to help.”