JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (February 20, 2018) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and in Missouri. On Wednesday, February 21, 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 pass three bills that will strengthen suicide prevention and mental health resources in Missouri: Health Professional Training (SB 846 [Schupp]/HB 1419 [Haefner]); Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors (HB 2141 [McCreery]); and Mental Health Parity (SB 2384 [Barnes]).
“The goal of our Missouri State Capitol Day is to educate our legislators about mental health and suicide. Advocates from across the state come together in Jefferson City to meet with legislators to share their personal stories and their connection to AFSP and let the legislators know how they can help to prevent suicide,” said Linda Fehrmann, AFSP Missouri Chapter Public Policy Chair.
Support and passage of the following legislation can help to improve mental health and prevent suicides among Missouri residents:
Health Professional Training: SB 846/HB 1419 encourages all health professionals to annually complete up to two hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management as part of their continuing education requirements for licensure. The bill requires psychologists, behavior analysts, professional counselors, social workers, and marital and family therapists to complete the suicide prevention training as a condition of their initial licensure and license renewal.
Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors: HB 2141 would prohibit mental health professionals (licensed psychologists, behavior analysts, professional counselors, social workers, and marital and family therapists) from engaging in conversion therapy or sexual orientation change efforts in their work with minors.
Mental Health Parity: SB 2384 would ensure that mental health care is accessible by all who need it, and that all insured Missouri citizens receive the health care coverage which they and/or their employers have paid for and are entitled to by law. The legislation would prohibit health benefit plans from imposing a nonquantitative treatment limitation on mental health benefits in any classification that they do not also impose on medical or surgical benefits in the classification.
AFSP Missouri Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting nearly 40 state capitols across the United States in 2018 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.
Suicide in Missouri
On average in Missouri, one person dies by suicide every eight hours; twice as many people die by suicide in the state than by homicide. Among Missouri residents aged 10-34, suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death. In 2016, 1,052 Missouri residents died by suicide. Missouri now ranks 13th in the nation for suicide death rates, up from 17th in 2015.
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: Phyllis Blackwelder (636)-395-3100; [email protected]
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