Tim Pawlenty calls for immediate funding of suicide prevention hotline

Former governor and current candidate says lack of funding is a tragedy

Dan Cook
June 08, 2018 - 1:55 pm
Tim Pawlenty

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Former Minnesota Governor and current gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty called for the immediate funding of Canvas Health's "Crisis Connection" hotline when he joined John Hines on WCCO Radio Friday morning.  

Current Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a supplemental budget bill passed at the end of the legislative session which included the $1 million in funding that would have kept the hotline open and running.

"And your point John about the suicide prevention hotline in Minnesota going underfunded is just a tragedy," Pawlenty said, "And it got vetoed as part of this spat between the legislature and the governor this past session, and that needs to be funded immediately. And if I have a chance to be governor, we’ll make sure that gets done ASAP."

People in need will have other options in the mean time including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and various county hotlines, but the shuttering of the Crisis Connection hotline leaves Minnesota as one of only two states in the nation without a locally-staffed statewide hotline.

"There are just thousands and thousands of people across our state and across the country who are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts," said Pawlenty, "And to not have a resource like the suicide prevention hotline as a first stop, or perhaps for some people’s circumstances a potential lifeline, is just tragic and its sad and it needs to get funded immediately."

The Centers for Disease Control says suicide rates have jumped, and Minnesota has seen one of the highest increases. Minnesota saw suicide rates increase 40.6% from 1999 to 2016. North Dakota saw the highest rate increase, at 57.7%. Only one US state, Nevada, saw a drop in suicide rates during that time period.

Listen to the entire interview between Hines and Pawlenty here: