By Daniel Thatcher
Utah State Senator
Suicide is the leading cause of death for kids in Utah over the age of 10, in part because most Utahns do not know how to reach help in a time of crisis. Worse, the phone numbers and service levels are wildly different from one part of the State to another. No cry for help should ever go to voicemail. To help solve this problem, the Statewide Crisis Line Commission has proposed four bills to provide universal access to crisis intervention services. All Four bills passed a Legislative Interim committee unanimously.
The four bills determined by the commission as critical to changing the tide of the suicide epidemic include:
SB 31: Utah Mobile Crisis Outreach Team Act
This bill creates a new type of first responder, specializing in mental health
SB 32: Mental Health Crisis Line Commission Sunset Amendments
This bill extends the commission to continue work for 5 more years
HB 41: Mental Health Crisis Line Amendments
This bill provides for a statewide crisis line available 24/7
HB 42: Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health Crisis Services
This bill asks that Medicaid cover intervention services
If we are successful in our requests for funding, by this time next year we will have a single number statewide for crisis intervention staffed 24/7 by professionals and a new type of first responder specifically trained for mental and behavioral health.
Thanks to the efforts of more community groups and individual allies than I could possibly name, we are changing the conversation about Suicide and Crisis Intervention in Utah forever. We continue gathering new allies as people overcome the stigma and fear surrounding this work and come to the table to add their support.
Finally, let’s take a moment to remember those who brought us here; both those we lost, and those we saved. Most importantly, let us celebrate exceptional people who have been on the front lines and have dedicated their lives and careers to serving those in crisis and supporting those in need. You will forever have my gratitude.
This effort takes many people working together. I’d like to thank some. First, I couldn’t have done any of this without my legislative brother in arms, Representative Steve Eliason. In no particular order, I would also like to thank: