Vt. aims to expand 'Zero Suicide' initiative

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) In 2018, 125 Vermonters died by suicide, and state officials are rolling out a plan to reduce that.

Gov. Phil Scott's administration wants $575,000 from the legislature to launch a suicide prevention plan.

The Department of Human Services wants to expand the 'Zero Suicide' initiative.

That includes suicide prevention, mental health services, and care coordination.

They also want to expand the suicide prevention lifeline so people in distress talk to a Vermonter over the phone instead of someone out of state.

Health officials also want to help older Vermonters and expand elder care programs for people who live alone.

"At any given time many of us experience challenges in our lives, see our children and loved ones our families our friends struggling," Department of Mental Health Commissioner Sarah Squirrell said. "The weight of these stresses can lead to thoughts of suicide. Vermonters are struggling, our children are struggling, our youth are struggling."

Public health experts are watching substance abuse among adults and youth, which makes the problem worse.

A recent study shows one in four Vermont students say they've felt sad or hopeless.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call 1-800-273-8255.