Score one more for “compassionate” conservatism. 1-800-SUICIDE, a suicide-prevention hotline that over 2 million teenagers have called over the past three years, is now having its funding cut by the Bush administration. The hotline is being folded into the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Protection Agency (SAMHSA), a federal agency which “would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis.”
The problem, as Pam Spaulding points out, is that a lot of gay and lesbian youths use the suicide hotline—seeing as how they’re two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. But the Bush administration and SAMHSA, for their part, have actively sought to dissuade research on suicide prevention among GLBT youths, going so far as to try to squelch a conference on the subject. SAMHSA has also suggested wholly ineffective “faith-based” methods for suicide prevention, backing down only after an outcry from mental health experts. So the fact that this agency, and this administration, will now run the hotline and collect data on the individuals who call is very upsetting. Here’s a website with more information.