The federal government these days spends well over $4 trillion each year.
That's a hard number to fathom, but it's a good figure to keep in mind when considering the merits of an important bill introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko and two Democratic members of the House of Representative.
The bipartisan legislation aims to significantly boost federal funding for suicide crisis centers. Specifically, it would take annual U.S. government support of the nationwide network of crisis centers called the Suicide Prevention Lifeline from $12 million to $50 million.
That increase of $38 million could do so much good for a network that is stretched thin by increased utilization of services. And that $38 million represents such a small portion of federal spending that standard calculators can't even display the percentage.
Here's a couple of additional vital statistics to consider:
• Through the first six months of 2019, Lifeline calls to centers in New York state, which includes Dewitt-based Contact Community Services, totaled 48,918, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
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• Of those calls, 55 percent had to be routed to non-local centers.
U.S. Rep. John Katko wants to ensure suicide crisis centers have the funding necessary to ad…
For the best outcomes and best services, such calls should go through hotlines staffed by people in the area, as these professionals are most familiar with the resources available for callers needing services and follow-up.
At a time when much of the way Congress and the federal government is broken, it's vital that bills such as this one don't become a casualty of the dysfunction. There's no reason a bill such as this — a bipartisan proposal that has virtually no impact on the budget but could do so much good for our country — shouldn't move quickly through both chambers in the Capitol and get signed into law by the president.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.