Native American Issues

New Mexico Native American Suicide Prevention Bill Signed Into Law, But Will it Find Funding?

April 1, 2011

As we mentioned last week, Senate Bill 417, the Native American Suicide Prevention bill, had passed the New Mexico legislature and was on its way to Governor Susana Martinez’ desk.  Yesterday, the Governor signed the bill into law, although the bill did not include appropriated funds.

The new legislation calls for the creation of the New Mexico Clearinghouse for Native American Suicide Prevention, which will provide culturally-appropriate assistance to Native Americans around the state who are affected by suicide, and also for three culturally-based Native American youth suicide prevention initiatives.  New Mexico’s Interagency Behavior Health Purchasing Collaborative (IBHPC) is responsible for setting up the programs in consultation with the state’s Indian Affairs Department.

However, the bill as introduced called for $450,000 to be appropriated for these measures, but was later amended to say that the IBHPC would need to carry out the bill’s provisions within its existing budget.  We spoke with Senator Lynda Lovejoy, the bill’s sponsor, about the prospects for implementation without funding in place.  She said that the IBHPC has remaining funds on a previous grant to put toward getting the program started, and that the University of New Mexico also intends to use grant money through the Department of Psychiatry to assist.  All told, Lovejoy expects that at least $50,000 should be available through those sources this year, and she intends to get started right away on requesting appropriations for next year’s budget.

For more on the story from NECN, click here.