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SPRINGFIELD, IL (May 8, 2017) – On average one person dies by suicide every six hours in the state of Illinois. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the Illinois chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Tuesday, May 9 to speak with members of the Illinois Senate about preventing suicide in schools, (HB 2545, HB 3371 and HB 2950), implementing recommendations by the Task Force on Veterans’ Suicide (HB 2647), and establishing an advisory council on early identification and treatment of mental health conditions (HB 3502). These bills have been passed by the House of Representatives and are now being considered by the Senate. Additionally, AFSP advocates will discuss enforcing behavioral health parity (HB 68) with their House members.
“It is important for members of the Illinois General Assembly to hear from constituents who have lost someone to suicide or experienced thoughts of suicide themselves,” said Steve Moore, co-chair of the AFSP Illinois Chapter. “These bills, which address suicide prevention and promote mental health, can save lives and enhance the quality of life of Illinois’ citizens.” This is the fourth time advocates from AFSP have visited Springfield. They are part of a larger national contingent of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in the spring of 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff.
Educators’ Suicide Prevention Training, HB 2545, HB 3371
The Illinois School Code requires that school personnel who work with pupils from grades 7 through 12 receive suicide prevention training. There is no requirement, however, for the frequency or duration of that training. HB 3371 requires that training in suicide awareness and prevention be at least two hours. HB 2545 requires that such training be provided annually and extends the requirement to school personnel who work with pupils from kindergarten to 12th grade. Together, these bills ensure that suicide prevention training is required of appropriate personnel and that it be effective.
Bullying in Schools, HB 2950
While suicide is complex and it is never correct to focus on a single cause, bullying in schools can be a contributing factor to suicide by youth. The Illinois School Code requires schools to adopt a policy on bullying that is distributed to students, parents and teachers annually. HB 2950 adds the requirement that a school’s policy on bullying be provided periodically throughout the school year to students and faculty. Providing this policy more frequently will remind students and faculty of the importance of preventing bullying and the availability of resources.
Veterans’ Suicide Prevention, HB 2647
Veterans have a higher risk of suicide than the general population so it is important that Illinois find ways to reduce the rate of suicide by veterans. The Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Task Force was established in the 98th General Assembly by HJR 91. The final report of the Task Force, which was published on December 1, 2016, provides recommendations for the State of Illinois to address the issue of suicide by veterans. HB 2647 requires the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to implement those recommendations.
Early Identification and Treatment of Behavioral Health Conditions, HB 3502
The early identification and treatment of behavioral health conditions is an effective way to minimize their severity and duration. HB 3501 creates an advisory council that will review and identify evidence-based best practice models and promising practices on regular screening and early identification of mental health and substance use conditions and the barriers to their implementation. The recommendations and action plan required of the Task Force will allow Illinois to determine how to best utilize this important behavioral health treatment strategy.
Enforcing Behavioral Health Parity, HB68
Federal and Illinois law require insurance carriers to provide coverage for mental health and substance use conditions that has financial requirements and treatment limitations that are comparable to those for medical conditions (“parity”). Nevertheless, those with behavioral health needs are often denied coverage or pay higher out-of-pocket costs. HB 68 clarifies insurance carriers’ obligations and requires them to provide better transparency of coverage. This legislation provides for better accountability by clarifying the enforcement authority of the Department of Insurance and Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and facilitating private enforcement.
Suicide in Illinois
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall in Illinois, with 1,363 Illinois residents dying by suicide in 2015. For people aged 15-24 in Illinois, it is the third leading cause of death. For those aged 10-14, it is the leading cause of death.
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.
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