Senate panel approves funding to fight suicide in Montana

Measure also upgrades technology at Bozeman Deaconess

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In an effort to fight rising suicide in Montana, the Senate Appropriations Committee today passed legislation that will invest in Montana’s round-the-clock suicide prevention hotline.

Senator Jon Tester—a member of the Appropriations Committee—and Senator Max Baucus—announced the funding in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act.

The funding will allow the Bozeman-based Help Center to expand its free suicide prevention hotline service statewide.
The Help Center’s Christina Powell says a 24-hour hotline is an effective way to prevent suicide, which has become one of Montana’s leading causes of death among young adults and adolescents.

“Montana consistently ranks in the top five in the nation for suicide rate per capita. It is clear that we need all the help we can get to fight our high suicide rate,”  Powell said.  “This appropriation will give us the opportunity to expand our tools, increasing our ability to provide follow up services for people but especially by expanding the availability of  211,  an easy to remember phone number that can connect people to someone who can help them. We are so appreciative of the efforts Jon and Max are making on behalf of lowering the suicide rate in Montana.” 

“Montana can’t afford to be near the top of the list when it comes to things like suicide—especially if help is only a phone call away,” Tester said.  “Investing in the Help Center is investing in Montana’s health care infrastructure.  It’s an investment in all Montanans.”
The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act also includes funding to help Bozeman Deaconess Hospital to purchase better radiation treatment equipment for its cancer center, and to upgrade its electronic record-keeping systems.
“I’m proud to go to bat for Bozeman Deaconess. The hospital plays an important role in providing quality health care across Gallatin County and the region,” Baucus said.  “Keeping our hospitals equipped with the technology needed to serve Montana’s families is something I’ll always fight for in the Senate.”

Under the current legislation, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital would receive $250,000 for upgraded technology.  The Help Center would receive $100,000.
The legislation must first pass the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before the funding can be signed into law.

For a full list of funding for Montana under the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, click HERE.

What is an appropriations bill?
  • A federal appropriations bill funds the federal government.  12 appropriations bills will fund the federal government for the next Fiscal Year.
  • Less than one half of one percent of these appropriations bills consist of congressionally directed funding (also called “earmarks”).  This funding is not additional spending for the federal government, nor does it increase federal deficit.  Rather, it is a set of directions telling the government where it must use existing funds.
  • In the past, appropriations funding had been abused by anonymous requests with little transparency.
  • Since 2007, the process was overhauled to guarantee transparency and fair debate in Congress.
  • All of Tester’s and Baucus’ appropriations requests are online HERE and HERE.