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1-800-SUICIDE targeted for extinction by Bush admin

[Welcome, Americablog readers…]

Terrance at The Republic of T. has a call to action on yet another program being unraveled by the Bush adminstration that affects many people at risk, including LGBT youth.

The 1-800-SUICIDE line is in trouble. The government has ceased its funding for this important resource and wants to roll services into one of its agencies.

With teenage suicide being the 3rd leading cause of death between 18 to 24 year olds – our government should not be duplicating prevention efforts but helping fund the many local organizations and non-profits with proven track records on prevention. In addition our government should not be in the business having access to this private and sensitive information!

Despite the fact that almost 2 million callers have reached help and hope over the last 8 years, and a government funded evaluation stating the benefits of 1-800-SUICIDE, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a division of Health & Human Services, has decided to create their own government run system where they would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis.

You might recall SAMHSA, which came under fire from the fundies back in February of last year. Agency officials were forced by the Bush admin (after the WH received hopping mad calls from Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins) to remove all LGBT references from a federally funded suicide prevention conference in California and to kill gay-positive content from the SAMHSA site.

The Bushies also suggested a session on “faith-based” suicide prevention, and threatened the conference’s funding. The wingnut admin functionaries backed down after an outcry for sanity from response from mental health professionals.

SAMHSA also took a big hit when its web site featured a section called “Celebrating the Pride and Diversity Among and Within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations” which flew in the face of the flat-earth science often promoted in government under Bush that seems to either ignore or condemn homosexuality. The SAMHSA link above is to The Memory Hole, btw. My original post on this was called How long before a Bush drone puts a stop to this?

The answer was 12 days. That’s how long it took for a Bush drone to scrub a government web site of gay-positive content.

Since the neutered agency is now under the complete control of the administration’s fundamentalist Base, an independent resource like 1-800-SUICIDE is ripe for the picking. Do you want suicide prevention in the hands of the Bush administration? Terrance throws it down.

Do I need to mention the Bush administration’s record on gay & lesbian issues? Probably not, but I do feel the need to mention the administration’s office of faith-based initiatives, which I posted about earlier as being overrun with overrun with evangelicals and lacking in oversight. It’s to the point where it’s basically turned into a gravy train for Bush’s religious supporters to get federal dollars with which to proselytize and discriminate based on religious beliefs.

It doesn’t take much imagination, given all the above, to envision 1-800-Suicide being reborn under the Bush administration as a grant to a Bush-backer through the White House office of faith-based initiatives, to do suicide prevention. Given that, it doesn’t take much more imagination to envision, say, one of Pat Robertson’s outfits or part of James Dobson’s empire getting into the suicide prevention business.

Here’s how to help.

1. Tell the Government to keep their commitment to 1-800-SUICIDE and send the $266,000 that was already allocated.
2. Help Fund 1.800.SUICIDE. We need to raise $266,000 for our bills with AT&T; to keep the Suicide Prevention Hotline running privately. Once we pay off AT&T; for our old phone agreement We have to pay roughly $30,000 per month for the next 6 months in order to come out of debt.
3. Keep Suicide Prevention Private and Confidential Petition. Our Government should not duplicate the efforts of the Hopeline – but help with training of social works, education and awareness of the issues of mental health.
4. E-mail your friends.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding