Vern Buchanan wants ‘988’ calls connecting to a suicide hotline
Hasty Words/Pixabay

Self-poisoning by children has jumped at an alarming rate.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan threw his support Monday behind establishing a national suicide hotline.

“We need to do a better job getting assistance to those in mental health crisis,” the Sarasota Republican said.

“By making it easier to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and devoting resources toward these crisis centers, we can have an immediate impact in reducing suicide.”

Legislation in the House (HR 4194) would designate 988 as a national suicide hotline, the same way 911 gets reserved for emergency calls.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2017, the total of 47,173 suicides nationwide exceeded the 19,510 homicides by more than two-to-one.

That puts suicide rates in the country at their highest level since World War II and marks a 33 percent spike since 1999.

Buchanan found suicide rates among younger Americans particularly alarming. Suicide represents the second leading cause of death for those age 10 to 34, and the fourth leading cause of death for those age 35 to 54.

And while age 10 seems a remarkably young age to start tracking suicides, the Journal of Pediatrics reports attempted suicide by poisoning attempts by girls ages 10 to 12 rose by 265 percent between 2010 and 2017. Girls ages 13 to 15 saw attempts rise 140 percent in the same period of time.

Buchanan’s office cited work done by Centerstone Florida, which is based in his district.

“Suicide is preventable. Everyone in our communities, in our nation, has to be involved,” said Centerstone CEO Melissa Larkin-Skinner. “We all have to work together to achieve zero suicides. Thank you to Congressman Buchanan for recognizing the need for a National Suicide Hotline three-digit number that is easy to remember.”

Buchanan has previously advocated for greater intervention on curbing suicides among veterans. He also introduced the Veterans Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act, which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the link between addictive opioids and the high rate of suicides among veterans.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Marilyn Edwards

    September 16, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    It is always a good thing to discuss suicide. Right now, my opinion, we do not have anything in place to help people that are in such dire circumstances they feel like they can’t go on. I think about this everyday..I am in a hopeless situation. We all have different reasons to think about why our lives have been so challenged. Calling a suicide hotline, or trying to talk to a Doctor, or just about anyone will most likely lead to “Baker Acting”. That alone would make you want to commit suicide. This is a Taboo subject…professionals are certainly not trained..I’ve had therapy off and on for many years, and I can tell you they inappropriate, ignorant, and even stupid things that have been said to me. One kept yawning in my face while Imwas talking about a tragic death, being a Caregiver to my Mom with Alzheiner’s, being isolated as even friends don’t understand or have compassion. Being alone to face so much stress and heartmake makes it 100% worse and makes you question what you’ve done to deserve this this punishment. My only goal or purpose was my beautiful Mother suffering with this Monster of a disease. Since all of our finances were needed for the 14 year period leaves me at rock bottom and in disbelief that close to the end of my life, I no longer have a purpose. There are so many people that see themselves in a hopeless situation. And it is so obvious the World has become so materialistic and self centered. I have worked all of my was not easy..I started a business from nothing, ran it for 9 yrs.,and sold it, and wad an entrepreneur most of my adult life. When you live in poverty, you have no control over anything. Unless people change their attitudes and care more about people than money, power, and “looking” successful, nothing will get will only get worse and so many from the very young to the very old will continue to feel hopeless. If this new “Suicide Hot Line” goes forward, I hope there will be an experienced, professional with real answers, programs, extensive training, and authentic compassion. Follow-ups if wanted should be a must!

    • DisplacedCTYankee

      September 17, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Another Buchanan self-serving “press release.”

      Besides, who thinks that suicidal children are going to program an emergency number in their phone?

Comments are closed.


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