MI house bill would create suicide prevention commission

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A bill in the Michigan House of Representatives would create a statewide suicide prevention commission, if passed.

Statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Michigan’s suicide rate increased by 33 percent between 1999-2016. But Michigan lawmakers hope to lower that number.

According to the legislative analysis, House Bill 6252 would create a commission that would work with state departments and nonprofits to research the causes of suicide. It would also report back to the legislature and give recommendations on how to reduce risk factors.

The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Jim Runestad, who serves part of Oakland County. Rep. Tom Cochran, who represents part of Ingham County, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Cochran hopes the bill will be taken up in the next few weeks.

“It’s just a real problem. And it’s across the age groups as well, and across our community,” he said. “And it knows no bounds as far as what your demographics are.”

The bill needs to be taken up before the legislative session, or it will need to be reintroduced in 2019, Cochran said.

The issue hits home for Kevin Fischer, the executive director of the Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness Michigan chapter. He lost his oldest son, Dominique, to suicide in 2011.

“It is very personal, and the numbers continue to get worse,” he said. “We lost 47,000 people to suicide last year, and that number is expected to grow again this year.”

Members of the commission would be appointed by the governor, the speaker of the house, the senate majority leader, as well as police and health organizations. Fischer says the goal should be to produce real change.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, we don’t yield a lot of results. So I’d like this to be an action-based commission, not just one that talks and produces a report,” he said.

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