I wrote earlier about the suicide prevention service 1.800.SUICIDE being in danger of falling into the Bush administration’s hands, and what the possible outcome of that might be. Well, it looks like they got a reprieve, but the clock is still ticking for 1.800.SUICIDE. The latest news is that they got a two week extension, but time is still running out to save this service before it either rings busy or gets answered by whomever the Bush administration chooses.
I’ll give you a minute to think about who this administration might put on the other end of that line. Take another minute to consider that there’s no precedent for the government taking over a helpline that’s been successfully run by the community with the support (but not control) of the federal government. Given what this administration tends to do with social services — turning them over to their faith-based cronies and proselytizers-for-profit, with precious little oversight— think of what could happen to a host of other helplines (like the National AIDS Hotline or the National Domestic violence Hotline) if 1.800.SUICIDE is the precedent setting case.
Now that you’ve had a minute to think about it, here’s what you can do.
- Tell the Government to keep their commitment to 1-800-SUICIDE and send the $266,000 that was already allocated.
- 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.
- 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.
- E-mail your friends.
Otherwise, the Bush administration already has a friend who’s in the telephone counseling business.
From an 81-acre campus with a spectacular view of the Rockies, where Focus on the Family relocated in 1993, Dobson sits at the top of a humming dispensary of advice and activism.
… Each of the organization’s 1,400 employees must have an active religious life. Some 150 phone attendants answer a total of 5,000 phone calls a day, 90 percent of which pertain to a family concern that is addressed through printed, audio, or video materials. The remaining 10 percent involve ”counseling issues,” such as teenage substance abuse or gambling in the family, said Paul Hetrick, the Focus vice president for media relations. For these calls, Focus employees offer advice over the telephone, by letter, or direct the caller to other help.
Of course, that might not happen even if 1.800.SUICIDE goes down. We could just wait and see. Right?