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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: New 988 suicide hotline must be fully funded

As a survivor of suicide loss, I've seen firsthand how suicide and the stigma surrounding it can harm families and communities.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Detroit Lakes Tribune by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the newspaper. To submit a letter, email nbowe@dlnewspapers.com. 

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To the Editor:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a volunteer and advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention N.D. Chapter, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMentalHealth.

As a survivor of suicide loss, I've seen firsthand how suicide and the stigma surrounding it can harm families and communities.

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I am doing more by calling on my legislators at the federal and state levels to support legislation that will fund the implementation of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particularly for those in underserved communities.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day.

On July 16, those in distress and those that support them will be able to reach the Lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988.

By making the Lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the Lifeline's network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have:

1) Someone to call; 2) Someone to come help, and; 3) Somewhere safe to go.

We must act now to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.

Join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMentalHealth. You can start by visiting moreformentalhealth.org.

Together, we can help #StopSuicide.

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-Brenda Weiler, Fargo

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