(May 4) – A bill by Rep. Brittany Pettersen to implement the Zero Suicide model in order to reduce the rate of suicide in Colorado earned final approval from the Legislature this morning. Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation and the Zero Suicide model has been shown to decrease suicide by up to 80 percent when implemented in health systems.

“Implementing the Zero Suicide model in Colorado will significantly reduce the number of Coloradans who lose their lives to suicide,” said Rep. Pettersen. “Suicide is a complex problem in Colorado and demands a proven solution.”

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 the Emergency Department in the month before death, showing that coordinated care by professionals trained in the Zero Suicide model can have a significant impact.

During the bill’s initial committee hearing, Rep. Pettersen tearfully told the committee about her personal drive to bring the bill saying, “I often wonder if the people working 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 39-25 House vote sends the bill to the governor.

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