Betsy Russell reports the backstory behind the numerous calls at today’s budget hearing for funding a state suicide prevention hotline: Idaho’s previous hotline closed at the end of 2006 for lack of funding. Since then, various locally funded hotlines around the country have volunteered to temporarily take Idaho calls; currently, Idaho calls are being answered by a locally funded community hotline in Oregon. However, they have less access to local referrals in Idaho to help callers, and funding there is becoming a problem. Meanwhile, news stats, based on 2009 data – the most recent – came out this week showing that Idaho’s suicide rate has jumped up to fourth in the nation. Kathie Garrett, chair of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, said, “Idaho consistently ranks in the top 10 states for our suicide rate, but the ranking of four is higher than we’ve experienced.” Previously Idaho ranked sixth.

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