(April 28) – A bill by Rep. Brittany Pettersen to implement the Zero Suicide model in order to reduce the rate of suicide in Colorado passed the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee this evening on an 8-4 vote.

“1,058 Coloradans died of suicide in 2014, and that’s 1,058 lives too many,” said Rep. Pettersen. “Suicide is a complex problem in Colorado and demands a systemic solution. Zero Suicide is a nationally proven model which will significantly reduce the number of Coloradans who lose their lives to suicide.”

Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation and is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 – 24. More than 30 percent of people who die of suicide are receiving mental health care at the time of death and 25 percent go to a hospital emergency room in the month before death, showing that coordinated care by professionals trained in the Zero Suicide model can have a significant impact.

In closing, Rep. Pettersen tearfully told the committee about her personal drive to bring the bill, reflecting that had the people with her brother at the time of his death had this training, he may still be alive. “I often wonder if the people with my brother had known how to help him, if he would be here today.”

SB16-147 creates the Office of Suicide Prevention which will collaborate with health agencies and private healthcare systems to foster the national Zero Suicide model. A wide variety of health and behavioral health systems (including community mental health centers, HMOs, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and the statewide crisis services system) will be encouraged to adopt suicide prevention best practices known as the seven tenets of Zero Suicide: leadership, training, identification and assessment, patient engagement, treatment, transition, and quality improvement. The Zero Suicide Model in other health systems has shown up to 80% reduction in suicides of those in care.

The bill passed out of the Senate 29-6 and now proceeds to the House floor.

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