Youth Suicide Prevention: Resources and Advocacy Opportunities

This week Governor Herbert announced a community task force to address the high youth suicide rate in Utah. The group will convene and report in a month on recommendations to slow the statewide suicide rate in order to allow legislators to address the issue before they end the General Session on March 9th. The task force will begin with consultation from Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Two legislators already tackling suicide prevention this legislative session include Rep. Steve Eliason (a leader of the new task force who is highly aware of how this issue impacts Utah’s suburban school districts) and Rep. Justin Fawson.

CALL TO ACTION

  • Track suicide prevention bills during the State Legislative Session and advocate for the ones you care about by lobbying your legislators for support, attending public hearings on the bills and even testifying at these hearings, which occur in both House and Senate standing committees. You can use the state legislative website (le.utah.gov) to track bills by finding the bill and clicking “track this” or “e-mail notifications”. Or use the Bill Watch (“Watch Utah Legislature Bills”) app to track bills on your smartphone. See our list of suicide prevention bills below.
  • Spread the word about the SafeUT app in school and youth communities. This valuable app saves lives through reporting, rescue and crisis services. Plus, it’s confidential.
  • Read up on identity issues impacting youth and share good resources with decision makers. In the case of youth suicide, legislative advocacy isn’t the only step, particularly for parents experiencing it in real time. Below is a list of books suggested by Action Utah event participants and public school personnel; each explores formative issues impacting young adults across the country that may offer insights to support Utah families. If you read something you like, share it with your school’s counselor or principal. Small actions like getting copies of books in the hands of not only legislators, superintendents, and school boards may help impact this grave issue in our communities.

Suicide prevention bills we’re watching:

– HB 41: Mental Health Crisis Line Amendments – Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) and Sen. Dan Thatcher (R-Salt Lake/Tooele). Creates a single national crisis line number that routes to local services and creates basic standards for those services.
– HB 42: Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health Crisis Services – Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) and Sen. Dan Thatcher (R-Salt Lake/Tooele). Seeks a Medicaid waiver to cover mental health crisis prevention teams, such as MCOTs (mental health ambulances) to stabilize people at home or have them transported as necessary and puts funding in place for mental health services.
– HB 139: Telepsychiatric Consultation Access Amendments – Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy). Maximizes existing resources in Utah, given our shortage of available child psychiatrists by implementing a proven system of mental health care over the phone to assess the risk of and care for suicidality that reduces suicides, triples the output of care per psychiatrist, and improves medication management critical to suicide prevention.
HB 87: Suicide Prevention Training Amendments – Rep. Justin Fawson (R-Ogden). Requires an individual to complete a course in suicide prevention in order to obtain or renew a license under the Utah Medical Practice Act or the Utah Osteopathic Medical Practice Act.
HB 40: Educator Licensing Requirements – Rep. Val Peterson (R-Orem) and Sen. Ann Millner (R-Davis/Morgan/Weber). Includes a modification to require a minimum of two hours of suicide prevention training every three years for licensed employees.

Recommended Reading: Identity Issues Impacting Youth

The following books have been recommended to us by others and are not as much linked to suicide as they are to the wealth of issues impacting youth in school, which exist on the same map as suicide.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon (also has a companion book for young adults)
Color Mute by Mica Pollock
When the Drama Club is Not Enough by Jeff Perrotti & Kim Westheimer
Brain Storm by Daniel Siegel
Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall

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