Gov. Dayton calls for nearly $1 million in suicide prevention hotline funding

Gov. Mark Dayton is asking the legislature to spend some of Minnesota's budget surplus on grants to open up suicide prevention hotlines across the state, a move that comes just over a month before the deadline to find another year of funding for the state's only suicide crisis center.

Nearly 52,000 calls would be rerouted to out-of-state call centers if Crisis Connection can't find close to $1 million by May 21, something Dayton is trying to avoid with a proposed $969,000 in grants for Minnesota nonprofits, including Crisis Connection.

"Anything we can do to reach to people—or allow them to reach out to us—at the crucial point when they're deciding to take their lives is something that we should be doing," Dayton said Thursday. "This is immediate access to someone who is trained and can provide that kind of care."

Dayton sent a letter to legislative leaders Thursday outlining his plan, though he has yet to meet with them on an issue he hopes can gain bipartisan support.

The Minnesota Department of Health says 745 people in the state took their own lives last year, with the overall suicide rate increasing 19 percent since 2010--a tragedy in the eyes of many.

"I think it's crucially important," Dayton said. "If it saves lives in Minnesota then it's well worth the effort."