Michigan Republicans sponsor bill to create commission for suicide prevention

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The Michigan GOP has ruffled plenty of feathers this lame-duck session, with their attempts to gut minimum wage laws, eliminate half of Michigan's protected wetlands, strip power from Democrats, and build a new oil pipeline to replace the aging Line 5. But they've also introduced one bill that should appeal to Democrats across the aisle.

Representative Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) has introduced House Bill 6252 which, if passed, would create a commission on suicide prevention. As outlined in the bill, the commission would be made up of 19 members which would be required to include members working in suicide prevention research, suicide prevention services programs, law enforcement, public health, children's advocacy, and veteran affairs.

The bill outlines that members of the commission would serve the board without compensation and "[w]ork with state departments and agencies and nonprofit organizations on studying the causes and possible underlying factors of suicide in this state."

The commission would also be required to study demographics with the highest rates of suicide in the past ten years. Members of the commission would be required to present a report and make policy recommendations to reduce the prevalence of suicide rates demographics where suicide is prevalent.

The bill, which was introduced in June, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, the Lansing State Journal reports.

"This is a huge, huge issue and we can’t piecemeal this out," Runestad told the LSJ. "We need to really look at what’s occurring, have the data, [and decide] what are we going to do for each demographic, with their specific issues, in order to radically reduce this problem."

In June, the Center for Disease Control released a report detailing that Michigan's suicide rate had increased by 32.9 percent between 1999 and 2016.

Runestad told the Lansing State Journal that he is optimistic that the bipartisan bill will be passed before the end of the lame-duck session.

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