Advocates to Visit Salt Lake City to Thank Their Legislative Leaders for Passing HB 37, Creating a Statewide Crisis Line Commission

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              Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Favored the Passage of HB 37

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (February 16, 2017) – Today the Utah State Senate passed HB 37 which calls for a Statewide Crisis Line Commission to be formed. Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the United States, ranking 5th in the nation. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Tuesday, February 21st to thank their legislative leaders for their support of HB 37, especially co-sponsors Senator Daniel W. Thatcher and Representative Steve Eliason.

“Throughout the seven years since our AFSP Utah chapter was formed, we have helped educate the state, spread awareness, pass laws, fund programs, and support survivors of suicide loss and those who live with thoughts of suicide. This year, the AFSP Utah chapter was given the award of “Chapter of the Year” for the second time. I am very proud to have contributed to each of these things; but I know that the fight can’t stop there! We must work every day to create a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, research, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide,” said Emily Hoerner, volunteer with the AFSP Utah chapter.

The establishment of a Statewide Crisis Line Commission will help to integrate existing local mental health crisis lines to ensure callers are connected to a qualified mental health professional regardless of time, date, or number of individuals trying to access the mental health crisis line, etc. The commission will study how to establish and implement a statewide mental health crisis line, including a phone number, staffing and funding mechanism to operate and maintain a statewide mental health crisis line.

This is the first time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in Utah, 49 other advocates will be with Ms. Hoerner. The advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators.

Representative Eliason has been a champion of mental health care for years. In 2015, AFSP presented him with the prestigious Allies in Action State Award for his steadfast support of suicide prevention and firearm safety and leadership over the past few years on HB 501 (2012), HB 154 (2013), HB 23 and HB 329 (2014), and last year’s HB 364, which together have significantly expanded and continued to fund statewide youth suicide prevention initiatives in Utah.

Suicide in Utah

Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death overall in Utah. For people aged 10-24 in Utah, it is the leading cause of death. For those aged 25-44, it is the second leading cause of death. On average one person dies by suicide every 14 hours in the state.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.