# Suicide



Problems with 988 crisis hotline start-up

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.

Most people have memorized their Social Security number, cell phone number, anniversary, birthday and the 911 emergency medical, fire and police protection services number. On July 16, the number “988” became an easy-to-remember crisis hotline number we should log into our memory bank.

Anyone who needs support for a suicidal, mental health, substance use crisis, or other emotional issue can dial or text 988. The nationwide set-up should strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline system, which is a national network of more than 200 local, independent and state-funded crisis centers.

Both the new 988 hotline number and the previous ten-digit number (800-273-8255) will remain in operation, providing 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress.

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Cheerful cruelty belies governor's concern over kids' mental health

Self-awareness has never been Governor Kim Reynolds’ strong suit.

So it was that just this week, Reynolds asserted in an interview with the Des Moines Register that mental health “has been so important to me.” The governor lamented the pressures kids have faced over the past two years, “the depression, the anxiety,” adding, “We’ve seen suicide rates among young girls up over 50 percent” during the COVID-19 pandemic. She bragged about “working on mental health for five years” and “standing up a children’s mental health system.”

You’d never guess she just signed a bill that is guaranteed to increase depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among some of Iowa’s most vulnerable youth.

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Republicans value "fairness" only for Iowans like themselves

Iowa Republicans have sought to undermine LGBTQ equality for more than a decade, but in recent years, their myriad attempts to discriminate didn’t make it past the legislature’s first “funnel” deadline.

However, this year Republicans moved bills out of Iowa House and Senate committees that would prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. The bills are eligible for debate in both chambers.

The legislation is a priority for Governor Kim Reynolds, who declared during a Fox News town hall last spring that she was committed to acting on the issue. She has repeatedly claimed preventing trans girls from competing is a matter of “fairness,” a talking point echoed by Republican lawmakers who defended the bills last week.

Their stated concerns don’t extend to Iowa’s transgender girls and women, who would find yet another door slammed in their face.

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What the federal government has done for veterans in 2021

November 11 was first celebrated as “Armistice Day” in 1919 and became a national holiday in 1926. Since 1954, it has been known as Veterans Day.

It’s customary for American politicians to release statements on this day thanking veterans for their service to the country. But what has the government done concretely to return the favor to veterans? This year, more than usual.

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Iowa delegation tries again to address military suicides (updated)

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate passed the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021 by unanimous consent on June 24, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on June 30. Original post follows.

From the earliest Memorial Day observances organized by freed slaves following the Civil War, this holiday has focused on remembering military service members who died in wars. More than 26,700 Iowans have died in wartime service, with the Civil War accounting for nearly half of the fatalities.

Far too many Americans with military backgrounds die by their own hands. Hundreds of active-duty troops and more than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year. That death toll exceeds the total U.S. military fatalities in Iraq from 2003 to 2020.

Iowa’s members of Congress have tried again this spring to improve mental health services for veterans. Unlike in previous years, legislation named after Sergeant Brandon Ketchum made it through the U.S. House and now awaits action in the Senate.

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Data show no clear trend for Iowa suicides during pandemic

While defending her approach to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Governor Kim Reynolds repeatedly asserted that Iowa was seeing an “uptick” in suicides, and listed suicides among the mental health problems that were “exponentially increasing.”

Preliminary data on Iowa deaths by suicide in 2020 paint a more complex picture. An estimated 557 Iowans took their own lives last year, the highest number recorded in two decades. However, many of the increased deaths occurred during January and February, before COVID-19 was identified in Iowa and well before any restrictions were imposed to slow the spread of the novel virus.

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