Bill to increase resources for youth suicide prevention programs passes Senate

Stock image | Photo by AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —A bill that would amend provisions to youth suicide prevention programs passed in the state Senate on Tuesday and was sent to Gov. Spencer Cox for his signature.

File photo of the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Youth Suicide Prevention Programs Amendments, designated as HB 93, passed the Senate 26-2-1. Southern Utah legislators Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, Sen. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, and Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, all voted in favor of the bill.

The bill passed in the House on Feb. 18 66-2-7. All Southern Utah representatives voted in favor, with the exception of Reps. Travis Seegmiller and Brad Last, who were among the seven marked absent or not voting. 

“The incidence of suicide in our state among our young people is alarming,” St. George Rep. Lowry Snow told St. George News. “I voted in favor of this bill because it provides additional resources for our children in this area and will assist parents and families working with our schools to help prevent more of the young people suicide tragedies from occurring in our community.” 

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian S. King, D-Salt Lake City, spoke on the House floor before the vote and said he was pleased with how the bill was receiving support from across the board. 

“We’re just trying to make sure that we provide better resources for suicide prevention efforts in our public schools,” he said. “It’s got good support across the board. I think we’ve addressed the concerns with it and ask for your support.”

The bill, previously reported on by St. George News, was endorsed by the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association and the Utah Association of School Business Officials, King said. 

Rep. Cheryl K. Acton, R-West Jordan, also endorsed the bill on the House floor, saying she liked the way the bill was revised to differentiate between the ways suicide prevention will be taught to elementary graders versus secondary graders. 

“For elementary grades, they’ll be receiving life skills like resiliency training, healthy habits, self-care, problem-solving, conflict resolution, that sort of thing,” she said. “So it won’t burden young children with teen and adult issues that they may not be ready for, but it will help them develop great skills that they can use at any age, and the earlier, the better.”

The bill is now waiting to be signed by Cox before it can become law.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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