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Suicide Watch

Can a 24-hour crisis hotline put callers on hold? The state will get back to you on that.

Just this past June, Colorado established the state Office of Suicide Prevention, with a budget of nearly $160,000 and a staff of two. But until a full-time director is hired, the office has no firm focus. For now, acting director Stephannie Finley is compiling information about suicide-prevention efforts around the state. She says the group isn't nearly ready to establish a statewide phone line, nor does it have a mandate to crack down on hotlines run by non-professionals.

LIS'N president Oram says he'd be happy to see the state get more involved in the business of suicide hotlines. "But the state doesn't want be involved more intimately," he explains. "They don't want the responsibility. The state health board is getting a little bit involved, but they're not staffing any suicide lines. They don't want the liability for it.

Dick Berger, executive director of Living Support Network, has been operating his suicide hotline out of his house.
Anthony Camera
Dick Berger, executive director of Living Support Network, has been operating his suicide hotline out of his house.

"People are wanting to put Berger out of business, but he's providing a service no one else can provide, given the circumstances the state offers. I'd be very happy if the State of Colorado could put Dick out of business. But the real question here is, who's going to fill the void if Dick is not here?"

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