A crisis hotline is shutting down at month’s end after failing to receive requested state funding.
Oakdale-based Canvas Health sought $1 million to support its Crisis Connection call center for the next year, but that funding was eliminated after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a supplemental budget bill amid a dispute with Republican lawmakers over spending priorities.
Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline had been routed to the program. Now they will go to out-of-state counselors who might not be as quick to respond or as familiar with services in Minnesota, said Canvas CEO Matt Eastwood.
“Our primary concern is for the health and safety of Minnesotans who rely on Crisis Connection as a lifeline during difficult times,” said Eastwood, adding that the closure is needed to preserve funding for Canvas’ mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs.
The hotline nearly closed last summer after a similar budget request failed, but Canvas diverted federal grant money to keep it afloat and received other support.
Canvas reported in past years that it handled 50,000 calls per year, with nearly half involving people contemplating suicide or suffering mental health crises.
While the national suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK will work as of next month, the local Crisis Connection hotline (612-379-6363) will redirect people to other resources. Crisis Connection also managed hotlines for farmers struggling with depression and people with gambling addictions that will be suspended or transferred to other agencies.
People have other options, including county hotlines, said Sue Abderholden of the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In the metro area, people can dial **crisis on mobile phones or text 741741 for support.
Even so, “it’s a loss,” Abderholden said. “And it’s a pretty short timeline for everybody to get the word out.”
The shutdown comes amid increases in Minnesotans reporting anxiety and suicidal thoughts. The state’s suicide rate has been gradually increasing over the past decade, particularly among white, middle-aged adults, according to state and federal death record data.
The 2016 Minnesota Student Survey showed an increase in students who reported high levels of stress and who thought about self-harm, but not in suicide attempts.