Hey General Assembly, where’s the funding?

State legislature “working” on suicide hotline funding


Genevieve Guenther

Veronica Wernicke, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: Veronica Wernicke is a sophomore at UNCW majoring in Communication Studies and is the Opinion Editor for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Veronica Wernicke may be found on Twitter @itsveronica98. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected].

Earlier last week, the North Carolina Republican legislators released the state’s spending plan. Among the budget were plans to increase pay for state employees and keep tax cuts, according to the Charlotte Observer. Not included in the budget, funding for the North Carolina’s Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

On July 1, if the service does not receive any funding, it would be forced to shut down. The line that receives around 255 calls a day, according to The News & Observer, would cease to help those in need.

When N.C. residents call the national suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE, they are transferred to the N.C. hotline, where they receive more N.C.-specific health resources.

According to The News & Observer, the hotline “needs $348,558 annually to pay its 28 workers.”

But apparently $348,558 each year is too much for the N.C government.

I am sure there are more questionable things the government continues to fund, so there has to be room to delegate funding for the hotline. This move sure sounds like they don’t care about the mental health of the citizens they are supposed to be serving.

Not only does this act appear careless, but it is also an act where lives are at stake. Was this an error on the government’s part? Was it a choice? It sure comes off as a choice especially since they did not offer any replacement funding for the hotline, according to The News & Observer. I am appalled either way.

Although, according to a News & Observer interview with Republican State Representative Nelson Dollar, it was an oversight.

No, really.

I have no idea what goes into writing a state budget and I am sure it is a lot of work, but funding for an important service like this suicide hotline seems like it should be closer to the top of important. Especially given the fact that every six hours someone in North Carolina commits suicide, according to a fact sheet published by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2017.

Suicide is a serious issue. We all know that. Our government can’t put those struggling with depression in the dark like this.

This error won’t help these people feel any better about themselves. Nor will it stop the issue of suicide. We can’t ignore it.

Dollar also mentioned in his interview that the government is working on it, but we all know how “working on it” can go when the government is involved — it might take them a lot longer than it should.

Like others, I am calling out our state government on their fault. They need to address and fix this issue sooner rather than later — before July 1 would be most acceptable.

If you agree, please voice your opinion to our state Reps. Hold them accountable for their mistakes and let’s make sure this does not happen again. This issue may not seem important to some N.C. Reps, but they need to realize it is — lives are at stake.