ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is calling on lawmakers to set aside $969,000 to keep the state's only suicide prevention hotline from closing.

The Minnesota Suicide Prevention Lifeline recently announced it would be forced to shut down next month without new funding. The 24-hour phone line links callers with local mental health professionals as well as first-responders and emergency rooms.

Dayton said Thursday an increase in statewide suicides over the past eight years underscores the need of keeping the hotline afloat.

The center, which is a branch of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, operates through fundraisers and contracts.

The Minnesota Department of Health temporarily paid for part of its operation last year when it faced a similar fate.

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