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Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Be the Voice for Mental Health in Michigan Today

10 May 2018 — 3 min read

BY AFSP

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LANSING, MI (May 10, 2018) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and in Michigan. On Thursday, May 10 advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to support legislation to increase awareness of and access to lifesaving mental health care and suicide prevention resources, including SB 464/HB 4772 (K-12 School Suicide Prevention Training & Instruction), HB 5524 (Mental Health First Aid Training for Educators), HB 4824 & HB 4217 (Allocate Resources for Military Personnel & Veterans), and HB 5550 (Prohibit Conversion Therapy).

“We as Michiganders have the power to change our policies and legislation through our personal stories and experiences. Educating our state Senators and Representatives about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention is the first step in creating that change. This event allows us to use our individual and collective voices to bring that message to our legislators. In meeting with our elected officials, sharing our stories, and advocating for change, we can save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide” said Corbin J. Standley, AFSP Michigan Chapter Board Member.

Current Michigan state law encourages suicide prevention training for educators and instruction for pupils.  This law can be strengthened through the passage of SB 464 [Hertel]/HB 4772 [Singh], which would require (vs. encourage) this instruction for pupils and professional development for school personnel. In addition, HB 5524 [Santana] would require school districts to develop or adopt a professional development course in Mental Health First Aid and require these training hours to count toward existing professional development requirements for educators.

Access to mental health resources and support are essential to assisting military personnel and veterans who may be at risk for suicide. HB 4217 [Farrington] would create the Michigan Veterans Suicide Prevention Task Force, while HB 4824 [Jones] would charge the Department of Social Welfare with identifying mental health and suicide prevention programs and services for veterans and members of the armed forces across the state.

HB 5550 [Zemke] would prohibit mental health professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors.  Conversion therapy is based on the belief that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a belief that has been rejected as scientifically invalid by all major mental health organizations.  Conversion therapy has not been proven to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.  Conversion therapy can, however, invoke feelings of rejection, guilt, confusion, and shame and can lead to decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, social withdrawal, depression, anxiety, and increased risk for suicidal behavior.

Suicide in Michigan

In Michigan on average one person dies by suicide every six hours. Among residents aged 15-34 suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death; suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among residents aged 35-54. Across the state an individual is six times more likely to die by suicide than my homicide.

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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. 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.

Contact:  Steve Windom swindom@afsp.org 810.730.2667

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