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Bill aims to provide funding for Wisconsin's suicide prevention text hotline

MADISON, Wis. (WISC) -- State lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that would fund Wisconsin's suicide prevention text hotline.

People in need of assistance can text "HOPELINE" to 741741 at any time at no cost to them.

The bill, authored by Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, would require the Department of Public Instruction to provide grant funding to the Center for Suicide Awareness.

In 2016 alone, 866 people committed suicide in Wisconsin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Valerie Donovan, suicide prevention coordinator for University Health Services, said a text hotline is particularly useful for college students.

"A lot of our students live in residence halls and have a roommate and might not feel comfortable calling a crisis line and having a conversation in front of a roommate, so texting offers a little bit more privacy and confidentiality to seek services," Donovan said.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth in Wisconsin and the third leading cause in the country, according to CDC data.

In the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, the grant would be $110,000. The money would go toward staff, training and expenses for the text hotline.

Taylor first introduced funding for HOPELINE during the 2017-2019 biannual budget.

Anyone in suicidal crisis can also call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Trevor Lifeline is focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth. That number is 1-866-488-7386.

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