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Advocates Want Suicide, Mental Health Money Restored

Jun 14, 2019

Advocates are calling on Ohio Senators to restore $36 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention before they pass the two-year state budget bill next week.

That's money that was in the House version of the budget bill, but is not in the Senate version. The advocates are pointing to state stats that show almost five Ohioans a day are lost to suicide. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

 

Wesley Walker speaks about his experience with mental illness at a press conference featuring advocates for mental health and suicide prevention organizations.
Credit Karen Kasler

“Cutting the budget is like denying antibiotics after an infection.”

That’s Wesley Walker, who attempted suicide seven years ago by jumping off a parking garage after years of untreated mental illness. The Senate’s budget removes $18 million for mental health treatment and prevention for children and up to $18 million for anti-stigma and prevention campaigns. Sandy Linehan’s son Russell died by suicide in 2012 when he was 23.

“So many people think, oh, it’s the other guy, or I know somebody, a neighbor whose cousin had issues. No, there’s a lot more people – 1 out of 5.”

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 1 in 5, or nearly 47 million people, experience mental illness each year. The Centers for Disease Control says Ohio’s suicide rate soared 36 percent from 1999 to 2016.