Suicide : Emmer’s Hype and Trump’s Failure

You’ve heard his words before …

As a candidate for President, I promised to make reforming the VA one of my absolute highest priorities.

In every generation there have been heroes like them, patriots who answer the call to serve, who do whatever it takes, wherever and whenever we need them to defend America.  They put everything on the line for us.  And when they come home, we must do everything that we can possibly do for them. — Donald J. Trump

Sadly, as with many of Donald Trump’s words, the actions just do not follow.

Case in point … addressing suicide prevention.

According to a new report released Monday, the Government Accountability Office study found that of $6.2 million set aside for suicide prevention media outreach in fiscal 2018, only $57,000 — less than 1 percent — was actually used.

Think about that … $6.2 million was authorized but only $57,000 was spent !

For our veterans that means services that could have prevented tragedies was not provided … but they are not the only group that have resorted to suicide.

Over the past year, farmer suicides has received a lot of focus.

A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control on suicides in 12 states found that workers in the farming, fishing and forestry occupational group had the highest rate of suicide (84.5 per 100,000). Among males, farming, fishing and forestry also accounted for the highest rates of suicide (90.5 per 100,000).

That was when farm income was higher and before Trump’s tariffs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a 12 percent decline in net farm income in 2018, falling to levels not experienced since 2002.

It’s a concern such that Minnesota’s Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer issued a press release (https://emmer.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/farm-bill-passes-house-heads-president-s-desk ) highlighting his support to deliver more mental health treatment for our farmers.

“They have suffered in silence for far too long,” said Congressman Emmer.

Congressman Emmer was pleased that his proposed “Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act”  was included in the final farm bill. The STRESS Act language will reauthorize of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) to give states needed resources to provide mental health services for farmers and ranchers. FRSAN was first authorized in 2008, though it did not receive funding and therefore lapsed.

Think about that … Congress created the program … but never funded it. The latest legislation wants Congress to appropriate FRSAN funding at $10 million per year from 2019 to 2023.

Just as Trump’s words about veterans care deserve scrunity, so should Congressman Emmer’s. Congressman Emmer has been known to vote against funding the government and raising the debt ceiling.

Will he vote for funding his farmers mental health outreach program ?

And if Congress does approve the funding, the Trump Administration still has to spend it.

Suicides have a cost to our conscience, but some politicians are better at offering words than funding our budget and providing the services needed.