Letter to the Editor: I Lost Sons to Mental Illnesses; Please Fund New Suicide Lifeline


May is Mental Health Month. By urging my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention, mental health and crisis care, I am hoping to influence collective change to support #MentalHealth4All.

Right now, individuals in crisis are able to call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and those that care for them.

Soon, it will be much easier to remember how to reach the lifeline as the number will be changing to "988" nationwide by July 2022.

Knowing this, it is critically important that states pass legislation now to reliably fund 988 and their state's crisis response system, just as we fund 911 and emergency services — through small fees on our phone bills.

Reliable funding will help to ensure all 988 callers can reach a counselor in their own state who is familiar with and can connect them with local resources. Culturally competent support and local connections can better help all callers through their crisis and in their recovery.

I lost both my sons to their mental illness. One committed suicide at Western State Hospital at age 31. Later, my younger son died of a drug overdose at 48. He had used alcohol and/or drugs on and off since college. Please fund Western Hospital and other mental health providers. Thank you very much!

Join me this month in urging your public officials to fund 988. We all play a role in changing the culture around mental health. Together, we can ensure #MentalHealth4All.


Eleanor van Noppen