Legislation requires the state to examine post-treatment suicides
LANSING, Mich. — Today, the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) to address the tragic problem of recently discharged psychiatric patients dying by suicide.
“If you’re a parent or caregiver, when you check your loved one into a psychiatric facility, you should feel relieved knowing that they are going to get the care, support and therapy they need,” Sen. Ananich said. “But unfortunately, we are seeing too many of these situations end in tragedy. My bill will help us get to the bottom of this and identify ways we can improve Michigan’s mental health care system for all patients.”
Senate Bill 813 will require the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to investigate any situation in which someone dies by suicide or unknown causes within 48 hours of being discharged from a psychiatric treatment facility. This data will illustrate a bigger picture about where and how many of these deaths occur, allowing the Legislature to better understand the magnitude of this issue, and inform any legislative reforms that need to be made to Michigan’s mental health laws.
“It’s our responsibility as a state to detect any alarming patterns and use that information to put safeguards into place to protect folks,” Sen. Ananich said. “Unless we start investigating these deaths and analyzing the data, we will be making policy in the dark. We must act with urgency to make sure these horrible situations don’t go ignored and continue to repeat themselves.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Michigan, claiming the lives of 1,457 Michiganders in 2017 alone. Mental health care providers and advocates have expressed concerns about increased risk of suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people are isolated in their homes. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that the Legislature take the necessary steps to improve Michigan’s mental health system.
SB 813 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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